The Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes didn't like each other very much prior to Wednesday night's game, and the rivalry has now moved to another level.
Joe Nieuwendy scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 27 seconds to play, as the Stars beat Phoenix 4-2 in a game that cost the Coyotes top scorer Jeremy Roenick for an indefinite period due to a broken jaw.
Roenick was injured by a hard check by Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher. After the game, Coyotes coach Jim Schoenfeld said Roenick is out for the season, including playoffs.
"As it stands now, he's out for the remainder of the season," Schoenfeld said, adding that Roenick's condition will be further evaluated on Thursday.
Roenick's jaw was so badly swollen that he was unable to talk after the game, and he also had several broken teeth. He was injured while Phoenix was on a power play and Roenick was skating along the boards in the corner of the Dallas zone. Hatcher leveled Roenick with a booming check at 5:52 of the opening period.
The All-Star center fell to the ice with blood coming from his mouth and was taken to the locker room, where the broken jaw in three places was diagnosed. Hatcher received a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
Coyotes captain Keith Tkachuk said Hatcher should receive a lengthy suspension.
"We're going to see what the league is going to do about this," said Tkachuk. "Hatcher should be suspended as long as Jeremy Roenick doesn't play in the playoffs. It's a premeditated incident. He (Hatcher) said he was going to get him. Well, he got him. They broke his jaw."
Hatcher said he was sorry Roenick was injured, but he said the check was a clean one.
"I feel bad he broke his jaw," Hatcher said. "But he saw me coming and I saw him before the hit. It's tough to say what the league is going to do. I went into the corner to make a good check, and stuff like that happens through the course of a season."
The Hatcher check was the aftermath of the previous meeting between the teams on March 23 when Roenick knocked Dallas' top scorer Mike Modano out of the game on a hit away from the puck.
Roenick received a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Modano left the game and had seven stitches over his left eye while Dallas was claiming a 3-2 win at America West Arena.
During the days leading up to the game, both teams had talked extensively about the Modano incident and the need to settle things on the ice.
"He (Hatcher) should be suspended for 10-15 game," said Rick Tocchet of the Coyotes. "If you do something wrong, drop your gloves like a man. But a 6-6 guy (Hatcher) jumps in the air, throws an elbow, that's wrong. The league needs to make a statement."
Dallas goalie Ed Belfour stopped 33 shots for his 35th victory, becoming the fourth goalie in league history to record 35 or more victories in five different seasons. The others are Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk and Ken Dryden.
Mike Modano and Nieuwendyk had goals over a span of 1:09 late in the first period and the Stars went on to complete the most successful home schedule in club history with their 29th victory at Reunion Arena.
Shane Doan's goal with 5:56 to play ended Belfour's bid for his 46th career shutout, narrowing Dallas' lead to 3-1. Dallas Drake's goal with 2:41 left made it 3-2.
But Nieuwendyk scored into an empty net in the final minute for his 27th goal to clinch the victory.
Phoenix is still trying to wrap up the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and home-ice advantage over the fifth-seeded Anaheim Mighty Ducks in their first-round series. The Coyotes' job will be tougher without Roenick, who leads the team with 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists).
Sergei Zubov of the Stars scored on a power play with 5:09 left in the second period to extend Dallas' lead to 3-0. Zubov notched his 10th on a 40-foot slap shot as the Stars posted their club-record 51st victory.
The Stars are 9-3-0 in their last 12 games and have already clinched the best record in the league. Phoenix lost its fourth in a row.
Dallas took control of the physical first period when Modano scored his 34th on a deflection at 17:40, then Nieuwendyk made it 2-0 at 18:49 on a blast from the edge of the right circle.
Stars backup goalie Roman Turek suffered a sprained knee at Wednesday's game-day skate, but the injury is not serious. Rookie Marty Turco was called up from Dallas' Michigan farm team in the International League to serve as Belfour's backup.
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