COYOTES ROAD TRIP STARTS WITH LOSS IN OTTAWA
|Phoenix at Ottawa|
|National TV: RDS; 7:30 PM EST|
By: Chad Lynch
Photos courtesy: OSHC/Freestyle Photography/Andre Ringuette
Ottawa's aggressive play in their own end resulted in their first penalty of the game at 6:24 of the first as Wade Redden was called for tripping. On their first power play of the night, the Coyotes tried to find a hole in the Ottawa defense that would lend itself to a quality scoring chance. With few opportunities, the Coyotes resorted to "Plan B" which consisted of moving the puck around the Senators zone in an attempt to catch the Sens in a lateral movement, thereby opening a scoring lane. Finally, the strategy paid off as Ladislav Nagy pulled up along the left hand boards and dumped the puck back to Keith Ballard, who quickly moved it over to Michalek at the point. Michalek then wound up and blasted a slap shot past Senators netminder Dominik Hasek with just 25 seconds left on the Coyotes power play to tie the game at 1-1.
Michalek's goal seemed to energize the Coyotes as they raced back into the Senators zone and fired a series of shots at Hasek, but the world-class netminder was able to shake off the goal by Michalek and turn aside the Coyotes shots.
At 10:18 of the first, Phoenix once again called on their penalty killers as Shane Doan was sent to the box for holding. Then with 47 seconds left on the penalty to Doan, Coyotes center Petr Nedved was assessed a tripping penalty, giving the Senators a valuable five-on-three advantage. Ottawa would make the most of their advantage when Zdeno Chara was able to gain control of a puck passing through the crease and slide it past the arm of Boucher, giving the Senators back the lead at 2-1. Chara's goal, came with 24 seconds left on the penalty to Doan, which was wiped out, but the 1:37 remaining on Nedved's infraction would require the Coyotes to put the goal behind them and concentrate on killing off the rest of the penalty, which is exactly what they did; returning to full strength only trailing by one.
Boucher made a key stop at the seven-minute mark of the first when Ottawa's Danny Heatley broke loose for a breakaway on the Coyotes goalie. Healtey tried to pick his spot on Boucher's strong side, but a big blocker save kept it a 2-1 game and swung some of the momentum back to the Coyotes.
Both clubs received matching minor penalties with 2:24 left in the period as Phoenix defenseman Paul Mara and Ottawa's Mike Fisher were called for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively.
The Coyotes then received an added bonus as Alfredsson was called for tripping with 1:08 to play in the opening frame. While the Coyotes wouldn't be able to tie the game before the end of the period, Phoenix headed to the locker room knowing that 52 seconds of power play time was waiting for them to start the second period.
Phoenix went to work in the second period with nearly half of Alfredsson's late first-period penalty still on the board. The Coyotes tried to establish an offensive presence, but a series of bad bounces kept Phoenix from making some key plays and eventually Aflredsson returned to the ice with Ottawa still up by a goal.
Boucher made another highlight save with 13:55 left in the second when Senators Alfredsson and Heatley had a two-on-none with Boucher that saw Alfredsson make a late pass to Heatley at the side of the net, who then tried to stuff it in, but could only slam the puck up against the left leg pad of Boucher and the Coyotes netminder held the duo in check.
Ottawa refused to left up with the offensive pressure and with 11:46 to play in the stanza, the Senators had their first two-goal lead of the contest when Mike Fisher let a wrist shot go from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Boucher to the top far corner of the net for a 3-1 Senators lead.
With just under nine minutes to go in the period, the Sens brought an attack on the Coyotes net and after Boucher made a first stop on a shot by Fisher, he was unable to get back to the opposite end of the net as Chris Neil blasted a loose puck into the Phoenix goal for a 4-1 advantage.
The Senators took advantage of their three goal lead by adopting a trapping style of defense in the second half of the period, which added to the Coyotes struggles to get an offensive flow started.
At 16:57 of the second, the Coyotes fell victims to a bad bounce when Ottawa's Patrick Eaves took a shot from the point that Phoenix defenseman Paul Mara tried to catch, but was only able to get a piece of with his arm, sending a fluttering puck at Boucher who had no chance to react to the redirection, resulting in the Senators fifth goal of the game and third of the period, putting the Sens up 5-1.
The Coyotes did get another late power play when Heatley was called for cross-checking with 28 seconds left in the second, but Phoenix wouldn't be able to convert in the final seconds of the period and the two teams would leave the ice after 40-minutes of play with Ottawa holding a 5-1 advantage.
The final period began with the Coyotes trying to make something out of the 1:32 of power play time left on Heatley's late second period penalty. But every time Phoenix was able to enter the Ottawa zone; the Senators were quick to the puck and able to force turnovers resulting in clearing attempts that ran out the penalty.
With 15:30 left in the third, Phoenix found themselves shorthanded again as Paul Mara was called for holding. The Sens continued to set-up in the Coyotes zone, seemingly at will, but the Phoenix penalty killers stayed within their system and refused to give up position to the Senators. As a result Ottawa struggled to get the puck to the net and Mara was able to return to the ice without consequence.
Midway through the third period, the Coyotes were no closer to closing the gap on the Senators as they continued enjoy little success in the Ottawa end due to turnovers, tough defense and elite goaltending.
At 11:23 of the third, emotions boiled over once again as Coyotes captain Shane Doan and Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov abandoned all restraints and engaged in a bout in the Ottawa end. Doan was quick to get his shots in and throw Volchenkov to the ice. But just as had been the case in Sean O'Donnell's earlier bout, the penalties were decidedly lopsided as Doan was hit with a fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct and a two minute instigator penalty, while Volchenkov took only a five-minute major.
The Coyotes went down by two men at 11:44 of the third when Petr Nedved was called for hooking. The Senators wouldn't pass up the five-on-three advantage and with 7:12 left in the third, Daniel Alfredsson's blast from the top of the slot, found a way through a screen, increasing Ottawa's lead to 7-1.
The Coyotes would cut the Senators lead to 7-2 with 2:52 left in the game on a goal by Jamie Lundmark, but that would be all the offense left in the game as Ottawa held on for a 7-2 victory.