By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- The marquee players and the lesser-used goalie delivered for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night in a 4-1 victory over the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals, and Martin St. Louis and Alex Tanguay chipped in one each. Mike Smith, meanwhile, stopped 30 of 31 shots in his first start in two weeks.
Adrian Aucoin scored the goal for Phoenix, which has a 2-5-0 record in November.
The Coyotes played with just five defensemen after Jim Vandermeer was given a game-misconduct penalty for boarding Tampa Bay's Kurtis Foster late in the first period. Phoenix already was playing minus injured defensemen Ed Jovanovski, Zbynek Michalek and Kurt Sauer.
Jason LaBarbera started in goal for Phoenix for the first time since Nov. 2 and looked rusty when Lecavalier backhanded the puck between his legs from the bottom of the right circle at 5:59 of the first period to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. It was the Lightning’s first shot of the game.
Tanguay bumped Tampa Bay's lead to two goals 38 seconds into a five-on-three power play as Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette (roughing) sat in the penalty box next to Vandermeer (delay of game). Tanguay secured a nice pass from Ryan Malone near the right post and lifted the puck over LaBarbera at 14:44 of the first period.
Playing four-on-four, Aucoin pulled Phoenix to 2-1 when he one-timed a pass from Sami Lepisto past Smith from the top of the slot with 40 seconds left in the first period.
Smith, however, played a terrific game from that point and stopped the next 20 shots he faced over two periods. He made a spectacular glove save to rob Petr Prucha of a goal with 6:56 left in the second period.
"We had a lot of guys play really hard," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We couldn’t score on our chances and they capitalized. They had big players capitalize on their chances. (You) can’t fault our guys with effort, we had a lot of guys try real hard."
Leading 2-1 early in the second period, Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier took a shot on goal from the right circle. LaBarbera stopped it with his right pad, but the rebound dropped into the low slot and Martin St. Louis somehow managed to get his stick on the puck and nudge it into the goal before sliding into LaBarbera at 4:30.
• Center Kevin Porter made his 2009-10 debut and played 10:41. Porter was recalled Monday to fill in for center Matthew Lombardi, who did not play because of a lower-body injury.
• Enforcer Paul Bissonnette fought for the third consecutive game and eighth time this season. Bissonnette and Tampa Bay’s Matt Walker swapped punches 3:15 into the third period.
• Phoenix has committed eight delay-of-game penalties in the past eight games.
• Forward Peter Mueller suffered a lower-body injury after colliding with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier in the final minute of the second period. Mueller played sparingly in the third period.
• The Coyotes scratched Lauri Korpikoski, Matthew Lombardi and Ed Jovanovski. The Lightning scratched Mattias Ohlund, Paul Ranger and Matt Smaby.
• NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game and spoke to reporters just before it started. Click here to watch his press conference.
"We're a group that needs everyone to play well and when you go a man short and only certain guys are getting on the ice, the other guys stiffen up and it's really hard to get a good rotation."
"We were good five-on-five but when you’ve got to kill a five-on-three and a five-minute power play it’s tough…We dug ourselves our own grave tonight.”
"I hadn’t played well on the road, but it was a good team over there that we beat. We should be proud of ourselves."