COYOTES FALL TO WASHINGTON 6-1
Washington at Phoenix
By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
The quest for consistency continues for the Phoenix Coyotes.
The good feeling the Coyotes generated after a successful three-game road-trip vanished quickly as the Washington Capitals struck for four goals in the second period en route to a 6-1 victory at Glendale Arena.
Alexander Ovechkin was as exceptional as advertised for the Capitals. The talented Russian had two goals and an assist - his second goal ala highlight reel material - as Washington won for the second consecutive contest following a six-game skid.
"I don't have words to describe it," said Ovechkin, who scored his second goal of the game by flipping the puck behind his neck while rolling on the ice. "I was down and just tried to shoot it. It was a lucky goal."
Ben Clymer, Dainius Zubrus, Brian Sutherby and Matt Bradley had goals for Washington, while Shane Doan scored the lone goal for Phoenix.
"We obviously gave them a lot of opportunities," said Doan. "You don't have many answers after that. But, it falls directly on me and the assistant captains; we have to make sure that we are better prepared mentally to play. To a man, we have to do better and get things right."
The Coyotes were out shot 34-22, while struggling in their defensive zone coverage and on the power play, which included a missed opportunity on a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:38 in the second period.
"We're not a goal scoring machine, so if we think we're going to play that way, we're not going to be successful," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "When we cheat as a defensive group, we get worse. We just have to correct that.
"But give Washington credit, they played great."
The Capitals took a 2-1 lead just 30 seconds into the second period when Brooks Laich, who was positioned behind the net, found a streaking Clymer who beat Brian Boucher for his sixth goal of the season.
Zubrus made it 3-1 on the power play when he blasted a pass from Ovechkin for a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Sutherby followed minutes later, capitalizing on a turnover in front of the Coyotes net to notch his 10th goal of the season, while Bradley capped the second period scoring for Washington at the 13:41 mark.
Boucher made 28 saves for the Coyotes, while Brent Johnson stopped 21 shots for the Capitals in his first game back in Phoenix.
"I was nervous at the start and obviously you can see it with my puck-handling in the first period," said Johnson, who played in eight games for Phoenix in the 2003-04 season. "But after the first period the jitters went away and I was able to calm down a bit. It was great coming back here."
Nursing a sore neck, Coyotes forward Mike Johnson did not play in tonight's game. With defenseman Sean O'Donnell returning to the Coyotes lineup from a two-game suspension, Mathew Spiller was listed as a healthy scratch for Phoenix.
Jeff Halpern, Matt Pettinger, Andrew Cassels and Steve Eminger did not dress for Washington.
The Coyotes will play 12 of their next 15 games at Glendale Arena. Phoenix has 14 games remaining, including 10 home contests, until the Olympic break. The Coyotes own a record of 11-9-1 in home games this season and prior to tonight's game ranked 10th in the NHL in power-play success at home (19.9).
Prior to tonight's game, rookie blueliners Zbynek Michalek and Keith Ballard each ranked in the top ten among rookie defensemen in both goals and points. Michalek ranked second in goals (7) and tied for 10th in points (13), while Ballard was tied for sixth in goals (4) and fourth in points (17).
The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena on Thursday night to face off against the Florida Panthers at 7:00 p.m. The game will be a radio-only broadcast and can be heard on KDUS-1060 AM, KDKB-93.3 FM or on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.