COYOTES DROP 3-1 DECISION TO TAMPA BAY
Tampa Bay at Phoenix
By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
Tampa Bay goaltender Sean Burke felt pretty comfortable in his surroundings at Glendale Arena. His performance on the ice on Thursday night was just as impressive.
Burke, who spent four seasons manning the nets in Phoenix, stopped 26 shots in his first game against his former team as the Lightning defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 in the only meeting of the season between the two clubs.
"I was really excited to come home and that was 16 hours well spent," said Burke. "I got home real late last night and was just excited to have the opportunity to play.
"I spent a lot of great years here and it was definitely exciting to come back. My family was here, saw lots of friends at the rink tonight, so it was extremely special for me."
Fredrik Modin, Vincent Lecavalier and Ruslan Fedotenko all scored for the defending Stanley Cup Champions, who improved to 11-2-1 in their last 14 games.
"Our guys played a very solid game tonight," said Burke, who stopped 10 of 11 shots in the third period. "They kept some shots to the outside early and I was able to make some saves and get in the game. We played a really strong game tonight."
Phoenix Head Coach Wayne Gretzky recognized the impressive effort on the ice and gave the Lightning their due.
"They're the Stanley Cup champions and they play the game the way it was supposed to be played," said Gretzky. "Having said that, I didn't think we played a poor game. We just didn't play as good as you have to play to beat a team like that."
The Lightning opened the scoring midway through the first period when Brad Richards connected with Modin to score his 15th goal of the season.
Tampa Bay built a 2-0 lead on Lecavalier's shorthanded effort at the 8:46 mark of the second period when he snapped a wrist shot through the legs of Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph.
Fedotenko gave the Lightning a three-goal lead on the power play just 17 seconds into the third period. While on the man advantage, Martin St. Louis found the quick skating Russian, who fired a quick shot that beat Joseph for his ninth goal of the year.
After numerous attempts on the power play, the Coyotes got on the board when Geoff Sanderson capitalized at the 3:44 mark of the third period. Phoenix kept the pressure on the Lightning and obtained a three-minute power play when Evgeny Artyukhin boarded Dave Scatchard face first into the board. Artyukhin was assessed a match penalty and was ejected from the game. Scatchard, meanwhile, will be re- eval uated tomorrow.
"He got the match penalty and that's what we were looking for," said Gretzky. "He (Scatchard) stayed on the bench, because he's a tough kid, but here's no way I would have let him go back on the ice. We'll see how he is tomorrow."
Phoenix goaltender Brian Boucher - who spent the last two weeks on a conditioning stint with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, the Coyotes' top minor league affiliate - has returned to the Coyotes after posting a 2-2 record, with a 1.18 goals against average, a .959 save percentage and one shutout. To make room for Boucher, goaltender David LeNeveu was reassigned to the Rampage.
In another transaction move on Thursday, the Coyotes recalled forward Steve Gainey from the Rampage. The 6-foot-1, 192 pound Gainey currently leads all Rampage players in assists (12) and points (19).
The Coyotes will travel to Los Angeles to face off against the Kings on Saturday (8:30 p.m.) The Game can be seen on WB6 or heard on KDUS-1060 AM, KDKB-93.3 FM and on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.
NEXT HOME GAME
The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena to host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. The Game can be seen on FSN Arizona High-Definition, FSN Arizona or heard on KDUS-1060 AM, KDKB-93.3 FM and on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.