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Modano Hurt In Stars Victory

The Phoenix Coyotes got to Dallas scoring leader Mike Modano in the first period, so the Stars tightened up on defense and made sure nobody got to goalie Ed Belfour until it was too late.

Brett Hull made Phoenix pay for injuring Modano by scoring an unassisted power-play goal that led the Stars to a 3-2 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Jere Lehtinen and Joe Nieuwendyk also scored for a 3-0 lead that was just enough as Phoenix's Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet scored in the final minutes.

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  • "We gave up two goals late, which is not good, but I thought that for the most part, through 58 minutes it was the best effort from our team throughout the lineup in a long time," Nieuwendyk said. "Maybe it was Modano going out early. Maybe everyone had to tighten ship a little."

    The league-leading Stars reached 100 points for the third consecutive year. They have 12 more games to break their record of 109 set last season.

    "Our team is playing really well," Guy Carbonneau said. "I don't think we're playing as well as last year, but we find all kinds of ways to win games, and that's the strength of a good team."

    Belfour had 26 saves to tie New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for th NHL lead with 32 victories and help Dallas hold an opponent to three goals or less in its 26th consecutive road game, the longest such streak since Detroit had 30 in a row in 1952-53.

    This time, it wasn't close until Tkachuk scored with 2:22 remaining. The Coyotes pulled goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who had 20 saves, and Tocchet scored 54 seconds later after a pass from Tkachuk behind the net.

    The Coyotes stormed the Dallas net several times as the seconds ticked down, but couldn't keep their five-game unbeaten streak alive.

    Mike Modano did not return after a first-period elbow opened a gash over his left eye.>
    Mike Modano did not return after a first-period elbow opened a gash over his left eye. (AP)

    "I honestly don't think they outplayed us that bad," Tocchet said. "Outside of a few isolated incidents, it was just a matter of Dallas knows how to win and we don't. In the playoffs, we've got to get the mentality it takes to win those type of games."

    The Stars scored first during a five-minute power play after Jeremy Roenick elbowed Modano behind the net and opened a gash over Modano's left eye.

    Modano left the game , and Roenick drew a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct, depriving each team of its No. 1 center and top scorer.

    Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock felt the penalty was barely enough.

    "We looked at the hit. Modano was in a vulnerable position, and Roenick took advantage of it," Hitchcock said.

    "It was a violent check," referee Stephon Walkom said. "I believe from viewing it, the impact from the boards caused the injury."

    Coach Jim Schoenfeld thought Roenick's ejection was a key to his team's punchless offense until the Coyotes scored on two of their last five shots.

    "We were having our way with them until Jeremy was given the five-minute major, which is a call I disagreed with. Just about all their scoring chances were generated in the first period on that power play," Schoenfeld said.

    Hull scored his 27th goal by poking the puck through a logjam around the crease seconds later. The shot had just enough momentum to slide underneath Khabibulin and stop on the red line.

    Teppo Numminen of Phoenix reached in to pull it back, but after a review the goal was allowed.

    Lehtinen made it 2-0 on a wraparound with 4:30 left in the second period, and Nieuwendyk scored on a breakaway 1:18 into the third, leaning left as he flipped th puck over Khabibulin's right shoulder.

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