By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes pounced on the struggling New York Rangers in the first period Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena and then withstood a late comeback bid to earn their third consecutive victory.
Phoenix prevailed, 3-2, in front of a near-sellout crowd.
Three of the Coyotes' first seven shots got past Rangers backup goalie Chad Johnson, who replaced Henrik Lundqvist in the lineup about an hour before puck drop because Lundqvist was battling flu-like symptoms.
It was Johnson’s third NHL start and his performance in the first period was very rookie-like.
Captain Shane Doan gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 6:06. Doan split two New York defenders en route to the net and gently slid the puck between Johnson’s legs while crossing the low slot.
Less than a minute later, Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker scored his first goal of the season on his first shift of the game. Boedker was recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday to fill in for injured forward Scottie Upshall.
Perhaps inspired by a pre-game ceremony for fellow Finn Teppo Numminen, defenseman Sami Lepisto upped Phoenix’s lead to 3-0 by scoring his first NHL goal. Lepisto ripped a slap shot from the point through traffic and past Johnson at 14:13 of the first period.
The Coyotes (32-18-5) went 0 for 7 on power plays, including four in the middle period.
"It was a game where we were in control early, and the style that they play tends to make the game look a little bit ragged," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some opportunities in the second period but didn't put it away."
New York (24-24-7), which has lost five consecutive games, rallied in the third period and outshot the Coyotes 12-3. Two of their shots got past Coyotes backup goalie Jason LaBarbera, who finished with 24 saves.
New York’s Marian Gaborik and Sean Avery scored goals 2:08 apart in the middle of the period to quiet the party atmosphere in the arena.
Trailing 3-2, New York went on a power play at 13:48 of the third period after Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt was called for hooking. Phoenix killed the penalty.
“We stayed with it and got rewarded at the end - just not enough,” Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella said. “We battled hard, we regrouped and we made a game out of it.”
While killing a penalty, New York’s Marian Gaborik nearly tied the score at 3 late in the third period. New York's Ryan Callahan took a shot on goal from the top of the crease and Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera blocked it but didn't control it. Gaborik moved in and swatted the loose puck in the air,
but it hit off the right post with 1:25 to play.
• Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall did not play because of a lower-body injury he suffered on Thursday vs. Calgary. The team’s medical staff is still consulting on the severity of Upshall’s injury. He did not accompany the team to Dallas after Saturday’s game.
• Center Robert Lang assisted on Mikkel Boedker’s goal. It was the 700th point of Lang’s career.
• Saturday’s game was the 200th game of center Martin Hanzal’s NHL career.
• Center Vernon Fiddler blocked two shots in the final moments after the Rangers pulled their goalie in an attempt to tie the score.
• The Coyotes scratched Anders Eriksson, Peter Mueller and Scottie Upshall (lower-body injury). The Rangers scratched Donald Brashear and Ales Kotalik.
• Before the game, the Coyotes inducted former captain/defenseman Teppo Numminen into their Ring Of Honor. Click here to read more.
• The Coyotes have eight games left before the Olympic break. Six of those games will be played on the road.
"It took me longer (to score an NHL goal) than I actually thought (it would). I was happy I finally got it over with... Hopefully, I'll get more of those. I'm happy."
"A lot of great players in this league have been down there (in the AHL), so I’m not the first guy that has been disappointed. It’s nice to be back up here, and now it’s time to just continue working.”
"We were down 3-0 in the first period and then in the second we took a lot of penalties. We can’t stay in games if we take that many penalties."