COYOTES CAPTURE 4-3 WIN OVER TORONTO
On the Leafs first power play, they did a good job of controlling the tempo as they set up in the Phoenix zone. While the Leafs seemed to dominate the play in the Coyotes end, their shots were uncharacteristically off the mark and at the end of the penalty to Michalek, Toronto had only managed a single shot on net as the game remained scoreless.
The Coyotes received their first man-advantage of the game at 4:17 of the first when Leafs forward Jeff O'Neil was called for slashing. Phoenix conducted an impressive power play highlighted by a series of shots on net, not only from the forward unit but the blueline as well. In all, Phoenix managed five shots with the extra attacker, but Toronto netminder Ed Belfour turned the drives aside to keep from falling behind early.
With 12:30 to play in the first, the Coyotes were signaled for a delayed penalty, allowing Belfour to leave the Leafs net for an extra attacker. With the man-advantage, the Leafs found open ice and tested Joseph with three low, hard shots (all of which were stopped,) before the Coyotes could finally touch the puck and get a whistle. With the stoppage, came the penalty to the Coyotes as forward Steve Gainey was called for tripping. On the ensuing penalty kill, the Coyotes nearly had a breakaway when defenseman Denis Gauthier stopped a Toronto pass and tried to hit a charging Ladislav Nagy in the neutral zone, but the pass was out of reach for Nagy and it sailed into the Leaf's end where it was recovered and brought back up ice. The Maple Leafs then went on the attack in the Coyotes zone and the fierce offensive pressure would pay off as Jason Allison took a feed in the slot and blasted a shot over the glove hand of Joseph for the first goal of the game, giving the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
At 13:11 of the first, the Coyote went back on the penalty kill when Fredrik Sjostrom was sent to the box for hooking. This time the Leafs wouldn't waste any time as they went right to work in the offensive zone and 31 seconds into the minor penalty, a Toronto forward fed a pass from the near boards to Carlo Colaiacovo at the front of the Phoenix net, where he tipped it past Joseph for a 2-0 Leafs lead.
The Coyotes nearly cut the deficit in half with four minutes to play when Shane Doan made a pass across the crease to Jamie Lundmark who deflected the puck on net, but wasn't able to get the puck up, over the leg pad of Belfour as the Coyotes were once again, stopped on the doorstep.
With just 1:57 left to play in the opening period, the Coyotes went back on the power play as Toronto's Matt Stajan was sent to the box for hooking. It looked as though the Coyotes had scored with 1:16 to play in the period when Nagy fired a shot from the left hand side, which was stopped by Belfour and laid at the side of the net where Nagy then rushed in and stuffed the puck into the Toronto goal. However, on the play, Phoenix's Mike Johnson has inadvertently slid into the Leaf's crease and the goal was waived off as the on-ice officials were in the process of called Johnson for goaltender interference.
So with 1:16 left on the clock in the first, the game went to four-on-four play with Johnson in the box. Then, 18 seconds later, Phoenix took another penalty as Michalek was sent to the box for the second time in the period, this time for hooking, giving the Leafs a late power play. The extra penalty would prove costly for Phoenix as Toronto's Tomas Kaberle was left open the top of the crease where he grabbed a loose puck and lifted it over Joseph to make it a 3-0 game.
That would conclude the scoring for the first period as the two teams headed to the locker rooms after 20 minutes of play with Toronto holding a 3-0 lead.
The second period began with the Coyotes going on the power play at 1:55 of the period when Toronto's Staffan Kronwall was called for interference. On the power play, the Coyotes struggled to increase their offensive production and the penalty to Kronwall expired with no consequence for the Leafs.
Things turned physical with 15:31 to play in the first when Mike Comrie was hit at the blueline trying to enter the Leafs zone. Tyson Nash went to Comrie's defense and shortly after that a scrum of players were involved in the ruckus along the boards. In the end, offsetting penalty removed Toronto's Nik Antropov and for a pair of minutes as well as Phoenix forwards Mike Comrie. Steve Gainey and Jason Allison both received 10-minute misconduct penalties and Tyson Nash was given two minutes for roughing, giving the Maple Leafs a power play when everything was settled.
Shortly after play resumed, Jeff O'Neil hit the Coyotes' Denis Gauthier on a play where O'Neil was called for charging, which made it a four-on-four game.
Just seconds after the penalty to O'Neil, the Coyotes went on the attack and crashed the net, disrupting the fragile Belfour, who began taking shots at the Coyotes forwards around the net, resulting a roughing penalty to the Toronto netminder at 5:43 of the second. The power play finally began to show real signs of life for Phoenix as they started to move the puck less and get shots to the net. The strategy paid off at 6:21 when defenseman Paul Mara's blast from the left face-off circle beat Belfour and made it a 3-1 game.
Then only 16 seconds after Mara's goal, the Coyotes struck again as Oleg Saprykin crashed the net and tried to get a short of on Belfour's strong side, but the shot was stopped and the rebound was left in the slot where a streaking Geoff Sanderson picked it up and made no mistake as he buried a shot past Belfour to make it a one-goal game at 3-2. Toronto' parade to the penalty box continued at 7:02 of the second when Kyle Wellwood was called for holding. On the man-advantage, Phoenix again opted to get pucks to the net, but this time Belfour was able to make the saves and keep the contest at 3-2.
With 6:42 to play in the second, the Coyotes found themselves on the penalty kill once again as Paul Mara was called for hooking. On the kill, Phoenix committed to keeping the pressure off Joseph and they did exactly that as they pressured the Leafs forwards and rushed them into making passes into lanes that weren't open, which in turn resulted in turnovers and clearing attempts that ram out the penalty to Mara and keeping it a 3-2 game.
With 1:46 left in the second stanza, Phoenix defenseman Matt Joes was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking, giving the Leafs a late power play. With 37 seconds left in the period, Joseph was completely screened by a pair of Toronto forwards and somehow still managed to get a piece of a shot from the point to keep the puck out of the net and send the Coyotes into the intermission only down 3-2 after two periods of play.
In the third period, the Coyotes came out of the gate charging as they tried to score the equalizer.
At 4:02 of the third, the Coyotes found the offense they were looking for as pressure in the Toronto zone resulted in a series of shots on goal. While Belfour was able to make a series of saves, he couldn't control the rebounds and a shot from the left side was deflected to the right and onto the stick of Ladislav Nagy, who quickly fired the puck into the Leafs net to tie the game at 3-3.
Just 13 seconds later, the Coyotes struck again when Denis Gauthier sent a pass from the Coyotes goal line to Geoff Sanderson in the neutral zone. Sanderson raced in a blasted a shot on goal that Belfour was able to get a piece of with his glove, but the puck deflected off Belfours's glove and to an open Fredrik Sjostrom, who has an open net to slide the puck into and give the Coyotes their first lead of the night at 4-3.
As the period continued, the Leafs began to exhibit an increased sense of urgency to try and re-tie the game. However the drives on the Phoenix net were still often off the mark and when they were on net, Joseph was in position to make the stop and keep the Coyotes on top 4-3.
With less than two minutes to play, the Leafs called their timeout to discuss strategy and decide when to pull Belfour from the net, but constant offensive pressure by Phoenix and sloppy play by the Leafs didn't allow the Toronto netminder to make his way to the bench as the Coyotes held on for a 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs.