COYOTES CRUISE TO 2-1 WIN OVER VANCOUVER
|Vancouver at Phoenix|
|National TV: CBC,HDNet; 10:00 PM EST|
By: Chad Lynch
Photoes by Norm Hall
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 at Glendale Arena.
The Coyotes recognized early that Saturday's game was an important one and they wasted little time jumping out in front; as defenseman Sean O'Donnell made a heads-up play to pinch in from the point, before he one-timed a pass from Mike Johnson in the corner past the Canucks' Alex Auld for a 1-0 Coyotes lead, just 2:05 into the opening period. The goal was O'Donnell's first of the season and was assisted by Johnson and Ladislav Nagy.
Phoenix had another chance to add to their lead as Vancouver's Ryan Kesler was called for tripping at 3:59 of the period. On the power play, the Coyotes did an excellent job of controlling the puck and staying in the Vancouver zone, as a result they were able to get a pair of good shots on the Canucks goal, but Auld stood his ground and kept the Coyotes lead to 1-0.
Vancouver would get their first crack at the man-advantage at 6:35 of the first, when Coyotes center Mike Ricci was called for tripping deep in the Phoenix zone. But the ensuing power play was less an chance for the Canucks to shine offensively than it was a stage for the seventh-best penalty killing unit in the Western Conference to flex their muscle as the Coyotes shut down the Vancouver attack and returned to full strength.
The Canucks put themselves in trouble at 11:23 of the first period when Sven Butenschon took a blatant interference call in front of the Vancouver net. The penalty would cost the Canucks as Jamie Lundmark's blast from just inside the blue line was tipped in front by Ladislav Nagy and into the net, just seven seconds into the Phoenix power play, for a 2-0 Coyotes lead. Defenseman Paul Mara received the secondary assist on the goal.
With just under two minutes to play in the first, the Coyotes nearly made it a three-goal lead when the puck too a strange bounce behind the net and jetted out into the crease, while Auld was caught out of position on the far side of the net. However the Canucks would clear the puck out of harms way before the Coyotes could try and stuff it into the net.
With 39 seconds remaining in the period, Ricci took his second minor penalty of the game as he was called for holding. The Coyotes would kill off the first 39 seconds of the infraction as the first period came to an end with Phoenix holding a 2-0 lead over the Canucks.
The Coyotes began the second period with a 1:21 remaining on the penalty taken by Ricci late in the first period. The Canucks raised their level of intensity to start the period as they tried to cut into the Coyotes lead, but the Phoenix penalty killers were equal to the task as they killed off the Ricci penalty and returned to full strength.
With 17:40 to play in the second, the Coyotes made a trip back to the penalty box as Tyson Nash was called for interference. The Canucks continued to attack the Phoenix net forcing goaltender Curtis Joseph to make a series of key saves, but in the end Vancouver was unable to find the back of the net.
The game went to a whole new level with 13:35 to play in the period as Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard stepped up and delivered an astonishingly big hit on Vancouver's Richard park, sending the Canuck to the ice. While Ballard's hit was certainly devastating, it was clearly legal, but that didn't stop Vancouver's Jarkko Ruutu from taking exception to the hit and taking a run at Ballard, and trying to hit him in the head with an elbow. Ballard, was able to avoid the elbow and get out of the way, only to wind up trading punches with Vancouver's Bryan Allen, who was the next to take on Ballard. While Ballard had his hands full with Allen, Coyotes captain Shane Doan refused to let an opponent try and deliberately injure his teammate and he threw Ruutu to the ice and pounced on top of him holding his big right hand, just waiting for Ruutu to give him a reason to throw it. After the officials were able to separate all combatants and dish out the penalties, the Coyotes came away with a four-minute power play. The Coyotes wouldn't convert on the man-advantage, but they did take some valuable time off the clock.
Late in the second period, Vancouver captain Markus Naslund took an elbowing penalty with just two seconds left in the period, giving the Coyotes nearly two minutes of power play time to start the third period.
In the third period, the Coyotes took part in the most exciting play in hockey as Doan was awarded a penalty shot with 14:26 left in the period after being hooked to the ice on a breakaway. However, Doan's shot, which he tried to stuff through the legs of Auld was stopped, keeping the Coyotes lead at 2-0.
The Canucks finally cut into the lead with 9:03 to play in the third when Anson Carter's shot from the right face-off circle, went through the legs of Joseph making it a 2-1 game.
After Carter's goal, both clubs traded minor penalties without either team being able to capitalize on the man-advantage.
Then with 5:38 to play in the period, Doan leveled Mattias Ohlund with a solid hit that sent Ohlund to the ice. Once he realized there was no call on the play, Ohlund jumped to his feet and threw off his gloves as he rushed a Doan. But the officials never let the two men face-off and the riot was quickly put to rest.
Vancouver tried desperately to muster some sort of offensive attack during the final minutes, but a late penalty to Naslund for hooking signaled the end of the hopes for the Canucks as the Coyotes held on for a 2-1 win.
Curtis Joseph stopped 34 shots in the win.
MORE THAN HALF
On Saturday night, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek recorded an astonishing 30:07 on ice time in Phoenix's 2-1 win over Vancouver.
"I thought he played really well tonight," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "In my opinion, he was the best player on the ice for either team."
The Coyotes will return to action on Wednesday when the club travels to Anaheim to face the Mighty Ducks. Game time is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will not be available on local television. You can still catch all the action on KDUS - 1060 AM, KDKB - 93.3 FM or by listening to the live broadcast on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.