GLENDALE – With a little rest under his belt, Coyotes captain Shane Doan has stood out in the first two games the team has played since the end of the break for the Olympics.
“He’s been real strong,” Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters after the team’s 4-2 loss at Colorado on Friday, in which Doan played 20:07 – the most of any forward - and scored both goals. “Hopefully that continues down the stretch. We’re going to need that.”
Doan, of course, missed 12 games this season because of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Despite his absence, he still ranks second on the team in goals (17) and seventh in points (33).
Just before the Coyotes resumed their season, Doan was asked if he thought the NHL-mandated 10-day break for the Olympics served him well considering his recent illness.
"I hope it did me a lot of good because I have a lot of ways to improve,” Doan said. “We won't know until the games start."
So far, so good.
Center Mike Ribeiro received a 10-minute misconduct penalty late in the second period of Friday’s game, and Tippett opted not to use him after the penalty expired early in the third period.
"He sat for so long I just felt we had better players to go out there,” Tippett said when asked why Ribeiro didn’t play after the penalty. “It’s disappointing because he can be a really good player for us if he just plays. Sometimes he gets caught up in the emotion of the game and the referees made him pay for it.”
Forward Brandon McMillan played 10:34 in his second game with the Coyotes on Friday and took two shots on goal.
Tippett has liked the energy McMillan has displayed playing mostly with Doan and Ribeiro.
“He’s been pretty good,” Tippett said. “He had lots of jump and played well (on Friday). He drew two penalties last night and was a good competitive player for us.”
McMillan, whom the Coyotes acquired from Anaheim for Matthew Lombardi last season, is hoping he has shown Tippett enough to stay in the lineup.
“I thought I’ve been skating really well, and obviously playing with (Doan and Ribeiro) has given me a lot of chances and I think we’re generating chances offensively,” McMillan said. “It’s just a matter of getting some bounces here and there and getting a couple of them in the back of the net.”
McMillan has played 93 NHL games, including two this season. He last scored an NHL goal in 2010-11, playing for the Ducks.
“It feels great (to be back in the NHL),” McMillan said. “It’s a totally different game and it’s more exciting, and obviously there are better rinks to play in. Hopefully I can keep this going.”
Both of Phoenix’s goals on Friday were power-play goals. After 60 games, the Coyotes rank eighth in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 20.8 percent.
For Doan, eight of his 17 goals this season are power-play goals, and his eight power-play goals rank 14th in the League.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson assisted on both of Doan’s goals in Friday’s game. His first assist was his 22nd of the season, which set a new career-high for assists in a season. Ekman-Larsson, 22, needs just one more point to reach 100 in his brief NHL career.
Goalie Mike Smith is expected back in net for Sunday’s game vs. St. Louis. Smith will look to build on momentum gained in the month of February when he stopped 95.5 percent of the shots he faced in five games. Only Montreal’s Carey Price (.960) had a better save percentage last month.
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