When Stars General Manager Jim Nill signed goalie Ben Bishop to a six-year deal this past offseason, he undoubtedly thought of nights like Tuesday, Oct. 17 and 19. Netminder Bishop came up with several big stops in both games as the Stars swept a home and home series with the winless Arizona Coyotes.
“He (Bishop) is doing his job and beyond,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said after the 5-4 victory in the desert on the 19th. “We have the utmost confidence with him out there. He’s been great.”
Making his fifth straight start, Bishop gave the Stars their third straight win and put them over .500 (4-3) for the first time this season with 27 saves. His biggest was a stop on a Max Domi breakaway less than a minute after the Stars had gone up, 3-2. Seguin’s two third period goals helped Dallas retain the lead, and Bishop did the rest. Dallas also received goals from defenseman Stephen Johns and forwards Jamie Benn and Radek Faksa.
The Stars previously outlasted Arizona, 3-1 on home ice two nights earlier. Bishop starred in that game — particularly in the third period when the Coyotes went on consecutive power plays. The former Frisco (Texas) High graduate who decided to return “home” during the offseason stopped all 15 Coyotes’ shots to preserve the triumph. His veteran savvy and competitiveness stopped 27 shots in all to give Dallas a hard-fought 3-1 victory. It was the Stars’ second straight win, and evened their season record at 3-3.
“(Bishop) competes like hell, (he) fights for his space,” said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. “He had to be sharp, because there were abnormal pucks coming back at him from turnovers high in the zone that he had to be really sharp on. With the way we were in our zone with the puck, I don’t think he could be comfortable, so I was really impressed with his competitiveness today. Really impressed.”
Bishop was also outstanding when he came up big midway through the second period, stopping two close-range shots by Derek Stepan as the Coyotes pressed for the tying goal.
Four minutes later, the Stars extended the lead when Tyler Pitlick won a puck battle in the corner and set up defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who scored from the left circle to make it 2-0.
Bishop said he is beginning to feel more comfortable in his new environment after having played for Tampa Bay and Los Angeles in recent seasons. “It’s still the same game,” he said. “The biggest thing is just learning guys’ names and the way they play. For the goalie, it’s the same game. You have to stop the puck. But (I’m) definitely more comfortable now (after) playing a few home games in a row. It’s nice to win at home in front of these fans.”
The Coyotes cut the Dallas lead to 2-1 later in the second period on a goal by former Stars’ defenseman Jason Demers, who took a pass from forward Max Domi and beat Bishop from the left circle.
After Arizona spent much of the third period pressing for the tying goal, Dallas forward Alexander Radulov sealed the victory with an empty net goal with just 51.7 seconds remaining. Dallas, which never trailed in the contest, took a 1-0 lead just five minutes into the match when Radek Faksa beat Coyotes goalie Adin Hill, making his first NHL start, on the rebound of a shot by linemate Mattias Janmark.