By Dave Vest | Anthony Perez
The Coyotes combined three goals from three different players with an extremely strong defensive effort to beat the Washington Capitals, 3-2, Monday night at Jobing.com Arena and launch themselves to the top of the Pacific Division standings over idle Dallas and Anaheim.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Phoenix (30-19-9) since a head-scratching 6-0 home loss to Vancouver on Feb. 2.
, who has stopped 127 of 133 shots since that loss, was named the game's No. 1 Star just a few hours after the NHL named him the No. 3 Star of the Week for last week. Bryzgalov made 29 saves on Monday in his 16th consecutive start.
After a scoreless first period, the Capitals pulled ahead 1-0 when Marcus Johansson flipped a wrist shot under the crossbar and past Bryzgalov at the 8:46 mark of the second period.
The Coyotes quickly rallied.
Phoenix tied the score less than a minute later when center Martin Hanzal
picked up a loose puck near the bottom of the right circle and fired it past Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth for his 12th goal of the season.
After Washington’s Scott Hannan was called for roughing at the 17:17 mark of the second period, the Coyotes took a 2-1 lead on the ensuing power play when Ray Whitney
one-timed a shot past Neuvirth from between the circles.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes padded their lead at the 4:24 mark of the third period when Vernon Fiddler
beat Neuvirth with a nifty goal for a 3-1 lead (see KEY MOMENT
Forty seconds after Fiddler scored, Washington’s Matt Bradley pulled the Capitals to 3-2.
Washington (29-18-10) pushed hard to tie the score in the closing minutes, but a four-minute hi-sticking penalty called on Nicklas Backstrom with just 2:26 left squashed their chances.
Regarding climbing into first place, Whitney said the Coyotes shouldn't get carried away with that feat.
“That doesn’t mean a whole lot to be honest with you," Whitney said. "Just wait a day and we’ll be back in fourth. That’s how tight this (division) is right now... If you win five in a row you just kind of hold your head above water and if you lose five in a row you’re going to be out a long way. We realize that for the rest of the way in it’s going to be pretty tight like that.”
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the latest the Coyotes have led a division since moving to Arizona in 1996.
• Winger Radim Vrbata
had two assists and stretched his point streak to four games.
• The Coyotes blocked 20 of Washington's shots - a season-high for 2010-11. Ed Jovanovski
and Sami Lepisto
combined for seven of those blocks.
• The Coyotes were held to less than 20 shots on goal (18) for just the second time in 58 games this season.
• Defenseman Ed Jovanovski
was hit in the face with a puck in the second period but returned quickly despite a swolen jaw.
• The Coyotes scratched Andrew Ebbett
, Oliver Ekman-Larsson
and Kyle Turris
. All three players are healthy.
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. Atlanta at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).