Coyotes 4, Ducks 2
By Jerry Brown | NHL.com Correspondent
GLENDALE -- Radim Vrbata always seems to score his goals in bunches. But those bunches aren’t usually this big.
The red-hot Czech scored two goals for the fourth time in the last 10 games and had his third game-winner during that span as the Coyotes wiped out an early deficit and manhandled the slumping Anaheim Ducks, 4-2, Wednesday night at Jobing.com Arena.
"A lot of teams when they come off a trip they have a down game," said Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett, whose team went 3-2-0 on its just-completed five-game swing. "We didn't want that to happen. When you come off the road you wonder if you're going to have that tempo but the guys came out and worked hard."
It was a game between teams going in opposite directions. The Coyotes are 9-3-2 in their last 14 games and are batting for the Pacific Division lead, while the Ducks have lost five in a row and are in the midst of a 2-10-4 slump.
Vrbata, who had one goal in his first nine games after signing a three-year contract extension during the summer, has 10 in his last 11 games and five in the last three. Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist while Shane Doan had two assists for the Coyotes (11-6-3), who have beaten Anaheim four straight times dating to last season.
Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, who had an outstanding road trip in winning three of four starts and stopping 149 of 155 shots (.961), overcame an early hiccup to move to 5-0-1 in his career against Anaheim.
Saku Koivu gave Anaheim an early lead and Perry also scored, but the Ducks (6-11-4) have been outscored 18-10 during their five-game skid and were outplayed all night.
Koivu got a stick on Andrew Cogliano’s centering attempt from the corner and directed in to Smith, who appeared to lose sight of the puck. It slipped through his legs for Koivu’s fourth goal of the year at 5:44 of the opening period to put Phoenix in an early hole.
The Coyotes missed a chance to get even when Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller made fabulous, bang-bang saves on Shane Doan and Rostislav Klesla, but cashed in a few minutes later. Yandle completed a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Whitney and Doan by stepping into a one-time that beat Hiller cleanly at 13:13. It was just the second goal of the season for Yandle and his first in a month – when he scored at Anaheim on Oct. 23.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Vrbata took over from there. Linemate Martin Hanzal ran down Yandle’s rebound and made a pretty cross-crease pass while falling to the ice that Vrbata put behind Hiller at 16:50 to snap a 1-for-24 power-play drought for Phoenix.
Late in the second period, Ekman-Larsson caught Vrbata in stride with a sizzling pass at the Anaheim blue line. Vrbata raced in and dumped a backhander over Hiller for his team-leading 11th goal at 17:31.
"It's a game of confidence and (Vrbata) has it right now," Yandle said. "When you're feeling good, you're feeling good. And he's so talented in the offensive zone that when he's playing with confidence, it's dangerous."
Phoenix put the game away 4:27 into the third on a play that sums up Anaheim’s struggles. Ekman-Larsson’s shot from the left point deflected off the skates of two Anaheim players and left Hiller helpless.
Perry got another chance on a breakaway and scored his eighth goal with 6:57 left, but it was too late.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Leading 2-1, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith
made a nifty pad save on a short-handed breakaway shot by reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry with 4:11 left in the second period.
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to watch the KEY MOMENT
• Four Coyotes notched two points: Radim Vrbata
(two goals), Keith Yandle
(one goal, one assist), Oliver Ekman-Larsson
(one goal, one assist) and Shane Doan
• Head Coach Dave Tippett said defenseman Keith Yandle
played his best game of the season: "Nothing fantastic, but he competed hard on every loose puck and made real good, solid plays and he was rewarded with a goal and an assist."
• The Coyotes improved to 2-5-0 in games in which their opponent has scored first.
• The Coyotes won 32 of 53 faceoffs (60 percent). Boyd Gordon
led the way by winning nine of 12 draws.
• Goalie Mike Smith
was called for diving midway through the second period after being checked by Anaheim's Ben Maxwell. Maxwell received a minor penalty for interference on the play.
• The Coyotes played minus center Daymond Langkow
for a seventh straight game. Langkow, who was granted a leave of absence from the team because of a recent death in his family, rejoined the team Wednesday. He is expected to play on Friday.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
, Maxim Goncharov
, and Daymond Langkow
• The Coyotes' next game is Friday vs. Vancouver at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
||"You come to the game with the same mindset every game and play your game. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes is doesn't. When it does, you try to keep it going as long as you can. Hopefully it will continue for a couple of more games."
||"This game is a tough game when you come back from being on a long trip; being on the road for eleven days or whatever. To play back here it was tough. You have to make sure you come out and get ready and get your forecheck going, it makes the game easier when you are playing in their zone."
||"It seems like we’re scared of winning. It’s like we forgot how to win, but we have stretches where we play good hockey against teams we’re supposed to beat with the players in this room. As soon as we get a bad bounce or something and we fall behind, we kind of get scared and we stray away from the game plan."
|Three star selections