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Gretzky Press Conference
Gretzky Press Conference
GLENDALE, Ariz. - With only six goals this season through 36 games, some Coyotes fans probably thought Peter Mueller was in a sophomore slump. After watching him score two goals on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, they might need to rethink that position.
Mueller scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season to lead the Coyotes to a 3-1 victory in front of a festive 15,008 fans at Jobing.com Arena.
“It obviously feels great to score,” said Mueller, who has 23 points in 37 games. “The team played great, but when you score a couple of goals when you are in a slump, it obviously puts some confidence in you and helps you get through the games.”
Goaltender Mikael Tellvist, filling in for the injured Ilya Bryzgalov, made 28 saves while Olli Jokinen scored for the Coyotes, who leapfrogged the Avalanche in the Western Conference standings to finish the night in the seventh slot.
“It’s a huge win,” said Tellqvist, who has a 5-3-1 record this season. “…It was a four-point game for us.”
Mueller’s first goal came midway through the second period.
During a goal-mouth scramble, Mueller emerged with the puck and skated to the left corner. Mueller then turned and fired a wrist shot from the odd-angle past Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj for his seventh goal of the season to tie the score at 1. Shane Doan and Hale assisted at 10:36.
“It was kind of a freaky goal, actually,” said Mueller, who scored 22 goals in his rookie season. “He thought he covered it, but then the puck kept on getting loose and I kind of walked out by the goal line. I saw him and he was still on the ground so I just tried to put a shot on net.”
A little more than two minutes later, Mueller gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
Captain Shane Doan handled the puck around the Colorado net and found Mueller open at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Mueller collected the puck and ripped a wrist shot top shelf at 12:41.
“Peter has played really hard and is starting to get rewarded,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “I said it the other night when he scored his goal, I really felt he has played some really good games and couldn’t find the net and was obviously getting a little bit frustrated.”
Mueller made a bid for his third career hat trick late in the second period as he had the puck all alone in the low-slot, but he couldn’t get it past Budaj.
Phoenix added an insurance goal with 6:42 left in the third period.
Forward Enver Lisin collected a lofted puck by Mikkel Boedker and dropped it off to Jokinen. The veteran center wristed a shot over the blocker of Budaj to give the Coyotes a 3-1 lead.
“I thought (that line) had a solid game,” Gretzky said. “There is tremendous speed on that line and they sort of just throw the puck and go. I thought Enver made a great play on the third goal. I was happy with their effort.”
Colorado scored the only goal of the first period at 8:12 when center T.J. Hensick swatted a rebound past Tellqvist after the initial shot from defenseman Brett Clark at the blue line.
• Forwards Daniel Carcillo and Daniel Winnik, and defenseman Keith Yandle were Phoenix’s healthy scratches. Center Chris Durno and defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist were Colorado’s scratches.
• The Coyotes won 27 of 47 faceoffs.
• Phoenix won its first game at Jobing.com Arena exactly five years ago on Wednesday when it beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 on Dec. 31, 2003.
• The Avalanche were playing without their leading scorer Paul Stastny, who broke his arm against the Coyotes in the third period last week in Colorado.
• Doan will close out the most productive calendar year of his career. Entering Friday’s game, Doan has recorded 84 points (36 goals, 48 assists) in 80 games during 2008. Only Evgeni Malkin (124 points), Alex Ovechkin (113), Joe Thornton (92), Pavel Datsyuk (89) and Jarome Iginla (85) have registered more points than Doan during the 2008 calendar year heading into the final day.
• The Coyotes hosted the Colorado Avalanche on New Year's Eve for the second straight year as well as for the third time in four years. Colorado downed the Coyotes 5-2 on Dec. 31, 2005, and the Coyotes topped the Avs 4-3 on Dec. 31 of last year. The Coyotes/Jets franchise is 8-7-1 all-time in games played on New Year's Eve.
• The Coyotes have lost in regulation just twice in their past 11 games. Since Dec. 10, they have gone 6-2-3, gaining 15 of a possible 22 points in the standings.