GLENDALE – After doing everything wrong in the second period, the Phoenix Coyotes still had enough left in the tank to save “Mike Smith Bobblehead Night” and their unblemished record at home with a flourish.
Down 3-1 and outplayed after 40 minutes, the Coyotes staged another furious third-period rally, scoring twice in the final 3:26 of regulation and winning in a shootout for the fourth time in the past five games with a wild 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday.
Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker beat Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth on Phoenix’s first two shootout attempts to set up Smith, who stopped Mikhail Grabovski and Alex Ovechkin to help the Coyotes win for the third time this season when trailing after two periods. This time, the dramatics came later than ever.
Now 8-0-1 at home, the Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks (7-0-0) are the only teams without a home loss in regulation. But Phoenix had to scramble for this one.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan scored two power-play goals (his sixth and seventh in the past eight games), and his second with 1:46 left in regulation came 1:40 after Lauri Korpikoski’s goal pulled Phoenix within a goal and woke up the crowd of 16,106 that went home with more than a doll.
"We knew we had 20 minutes left to put it all out there, and then (defenseman Keith Yandle) said, 'We can't lose on Bobblehead Night!' " said Smith, who made 30 saves and improved to 10-3-2.
"We are a confident and a resilient group and it's nice to know we're never down and out. We've shown that we can get down one, two or three goals and we can respond. We don't want to make a habit of it like we have, but this team has a lot of fight."
Troy Brouwer, John Carlson scored the power-play goals and Joel Ward added a third second-period goal for the Capitals, and they appeared on their way to a fifth straight win after their power play scored for the eighth and ninth time during that span.
But Korpikoski scored his first goal since Oct. 13, a sprawling backhander that beat Neuvirth between the pads to make it 3-2. The Coyotes needed another break and got one when Washington rookie Nate Schmidt was called for a delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass.
That's when Doan wristed an Oliver Ekman-Larsson feed by Neuvirth for his second of the night, and the Coyotes had pushed yet another game to overtime. Phoenix has now beaten the Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Washington in shootouts over the past 10 days.
"Tough break for Nate putting it in the stands, but that's probably a product of the course of the game," Washington coach Adam Oates said. "Too many penalties just in general. It takes the wind out of your sails."
Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek took a penalty at the regulation buzzer, covering the puck with his hand for a delay of game, but Phoenix was able to stop the League’s top-ranked power play on a 4-on-3 for the first two minutes of overtime to push the game to yet another shootout.
"They had a lot of traffic and big bodies out there," said Neuvirth, who made 32 saves for Washington. "A couple of times I didn’t see the puck, and it just hit me."
After stressing the importance of staying out of the penalty box all morning, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett watched his team take nine minor penalties, three of them by Boedker and one when Smith played the puck beyond center ice on a delayed Washington penalty.
Washington capitalized twice and now has nine of its 20 goals on the power play in 26 chances (34.6 percent) in the past five games.
"It was a really weird game, and that (Smith) penalty was typical of the night," Tippett said. "We talked about not taking penalties. Boedker must have had wax in his ears."
Phoenix got off to a good start. Twenty-two seconds after Jason Chimera was called for tripping, Yandle used a Martin Hanzal screen to load up a shot from the high point. The shot hit Hanzal and dropped in the slot where Doan maneuvered around Neuvirth’s pad and roofed the puck into a gaping net at 9:16.
But when Boedker took his second straight penalty late in the first period, the Capitals' power play took over early in the second.
Brouwer slipped unnoticed behind the Phoenix defense and was waiting at the Coyotes' blue line for a crisp 100-foot pass from Mike Green. Brouwer loaded up a bomb from the right faceoff dot and beat Smith for his fifth goal 33 seconds into the period.
Less than three minutes later, a high stick by Phoenix’s Jordan Szwarz gave Washington another power play. The Capitals needed 20 seconds before Marcus Johansson teed up a one-timer between the circles that Carlson blasted by Smith at 3:48 to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
The Coyotes had their chance to answer when Washington committed five penalties in a span of 5:07 midway through the period. But with 6:07 of power-play time (53 seconds of it 5-on-3), the Coyotes managed three harmless shots against a Capitals penalty killing unit that came into the game ranked No. 1 with a 90-percent efficiency rating.
Ward closed out Washington’s dominant second period at 16:27, one-timing a deflected puck from a sharp angle by Smith to make it 3-1. But when the Capitals failed to stretch their lead with an early 5-on-3 power play in the third, the Coyotes were still within striking distance.
"I think if we would have scored there and made it 4-1, it would have been a different story," Neuvirth said.
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