GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Mikkel Boedker #89 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammates Keith Yandle #3 and Shane Doan #19 after his goal against the Nashville Predators in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Coyotes knew they’d be contenders — in February

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While it largely flew under the radar, what Phoenix accomplished in February turned the entire season around.

The Coyotes went 11-0-1 during the month and developed a penchant for playing — and winning — tightly-contested games:

Feb. 4 vs San Jose: 5-3 win
Feb. 5 vs Detroit: 3-1 win
Feb. 7 at Dallas: 4-1 win
Feb. 9 vs. Calgary: 2-1 win OT
Feb. 11 vs. Chicago: 3-0 win
Feb. 13 at Vancouver: 2-1 loss SO
Feb. 16 at Los Angeles: 1-0 win
Feb. 18 vs. Dallas: 2-1 win OT
Feb. 21 vs. Los Angeles: 5-4 win SO
Feb. 23 at Calgary 4-3 win SO
Feb. 25 at Edmonton 3-1 win
Feb. 28 vs. Vancouver 2-1 win SO

Shane Doan said it was during February the team believed it could take on all comers.

“Everybody kind of thought we could beat anybody now,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “We really did. We thought we could beat anyone. That was probably the first step.”

The similarities between this playoff run and the run through February are mirror-like. Outstanding goaltending from Mike Smith? Check. Effective penalty kill? Check.

Balanced scoring? Big check. In 12 February games, the Coyotes got goals from 14 different players, including Derek Morris (one of his two on the year), Boyd Gordon and Kyle Chipchura.

Through 11 playoff games, 13 different players have scored at least once — that includes Gilbert Brule and Antoine Vermette, who have combined for seven after scoring eight in the regular season.

“You count on so many different guys, and so many different guys are the heroes every night,” Doan said. “It makes it fun.”

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.