By Dave Vest GLENDALE -- With former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali watching from a suite above the ice, the Coyotes played their punchiest and feistiest game of the season on Saturday night and beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in a shootout at Jobing.com Arena.
The game featured three fights and plenty of pushing and shoving after Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski delivered a brutal hit that staggered Coyotes captain Shane Doan in the first period. (see Key Moment below).
Radim Vrbata scored the only goal for either team in the shootout to extend Phoenix’s winning streak to three games.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 32 saves in regulation/overtime and then made three more when it mattered most to earn his eighth victory of the season.
“It was kind of one of those games where you think you should be we winning but they keep hanging on and hanging on,” Coyotes forward Vernon Fiddler said. “We knew they played (Friday) night so we wanted to keep going on them and (Head Coach Dave Tippett) did a great job using four lines to stay on them.”
The Coyotes killed six of Anaheim’s seven power plays.
“We chased a little bit in the penalties, but in the end we found a way to get two points,” Tippett said.
Trailing by a goal in the third period, Fiddler converted a slick pass from the right point by Sami Lepisto into a goal to tie the score 2-2. Fiddler’s goal came just 18 seconds after Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne got the puck past Bryzgalov for a 2-1 lead at 10:13.
After a scoreless overtime, Vrbata went first in the shootout and beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller with a backhanded shot. Bryzgalov, who after the game playfully argued that shootouts are not really fair to the goalies, stopped shootout tries by Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Selanne to secure the victory.
Anaheim's Nick Boynton was called for hooking Vrbata at 3:23 of the first period. The Coyotes needed just 29 seconds to cash in the penalty. Robert Lang one-timed a pass from Matthew Lombardi past Hiller at 3:52.
Coyotes defenseman Jim Vandermeer was sent to the penalty box for roughing at 6:04 of the second period. Six seconds later, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek was called for delay of game after sending the puck over the glass in the Phoenix zone, creating a five-on-three Ducks power play for 1:54.
With four seconds left on the two-man advantage, Perry took a pass from Saku Koivu in the slot and beat Bryzgalov at 8:01 to tie the score 1-1. Koivu's pass from the right corner hit Perry in the left skate but he quickly kicked it to the blade of his stick and fired it into the net.
The Coyotes were called for too many men on the ice at 5:31 of the first period. While killing the penalty, Captain Shane Doan took a hard check to the head by James Wisniewski as he crossed the Anaheim blue line while carrying the puck. Doan was staggered on the play but he eventually skated back to the Coyotes bench with a nasty scrape under his left eye. No penalty was called on Wisniewski for the hit, but he and Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle fought as soon as play stopped and both received five minutes for fighting. Yandle also received two minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct penalty. Doan returned to the ice less than four minutes after Wisniewski's hit. Doan and Wisniewski settled matters mano y mano 47 seconds into the second period with a spirited bout.
• The Coyotes finished the month of October with a 9-4-0 record. The nine wins tie a franchise mark for wins in October. Phoenix went 9-1-2-0 in October of 2000.
• Saturday’s game was the 200th game of Ilya Bryzgalov’s NHL career. His record is 86-79-19.
Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall returned to the lineup after being benched for one game for taking too many stick penalties. Upshall played 14:30 and did not commit a penalty.
• Forward Daniel Winnik also assisted on Fiddler’s goal to extend his point streak to a career-best four games. With seven points, Winnik already has matched his point total from 2008-09.
• The Coyotes scratched forward Peter Mueller, who has zero goals and two assists in 12 games. Anaheim scratched Sheldon Brookbank, Erik Christensen, Matt Belesky.
The crowd inside Jobing.com Arena gave Muhammad Ali a standing ovation after he was acknowledged on the Jumbotron in the third period.
"Obviously I was a little upset about the whole thing. You never want to get hit like that but it's big of him to give me a chance to respond. We know it's going to happen throughout a game and you just deal with it."
"We got lots and lots of penalties tonight. I think our PK unit and our team played outstanding in this aspect and we killed lots of penalties.They have two pretty good units for the power play. They score lots of goals and we actually gave up only one. I think it is a very good result."
"I have to stay back at the blue line and he tried to toe drag around me and he leans his face right down, so I just shifted my body over and I have to stand my ground."
• Nov. 7, 2009:
• Nov. 29, 2009:
• Dec. 19, 2009:
• Oct. 31, 2009: PHX 3, ANA 2 (SO)
• Dec. 23, 2009: Tickets
• March 6, 2010: Tickets