ANAHEIM – No blown leads tripped up the Anaheim Ducks this time. They finally completed this trilogy on a high note.
Anaheim tightened up its neutral zone play and gave the Coyotes little to work with in a heavy contrast to the wildly played previous two meetings. Basic, responsible defense backstopped by Jonas Hiller and the reuniting of the top line produced a 2-0 victory Wednesday night.
“We came out and played the game we wanted to,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who scored an empty-net goal. “That was a lot better defensive effort shutting them down, and goaltending played great and didn't allow any second chances.”
Corey Perry scored in the first period and Hiller stopped 18 shots for his 16th career shutout as the Ducks won their ninth in a row at home, two shy of the club record. Anaheim's 16-3-3 mark is the franchise's best ever through 22 games.
It was the third consecutive Ducks-Coyotes game in five days. Both previous meetings in
Glendale were 5-4 shootout wins by Phoenix in which the goals were scored in the exact same sequence, as the Ducks blew leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 in each game.
Both teams cited the need to limit turnovers and control the transition areas, and the Ducks did their homework a little better.
Phoenix went the first 9:34 of the game without a shot on goal and was outshot 21-12 through 48 minutes, even though it had three of the game's four power plays. The Coyotes failed to register a shot on any of the advantages, including a third-period interference call on Sheldon Souray.
“We didn't compete hard enough,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “They were more determined team defensively and we didn't have enough guys compete hard enough to get inside and create chances instead of just around the fringes. We didn't work to get shots through and when we did, there were too many blocked shots and too many missed shots.”
Anaheim Head Coach Bruce Boudreau reunited the big line of Perry, Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, and it paid dividends right away with Perry's seventh goal at 7:10. Getzlaf grabbed a pass by Derek Morris in the neutral zone and got it to Ryan. Perry took Ryan's pass while he moved left-to-right across the slot and slid the puck in as he fell down.
The Ducks took that 1-0 lead into the third period, but it could easily have been 4-0 if not for
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Coyotes backup goalie Jason LaBarbera and a little luck that prevented a Perry hat trick.
LaBarbera closed his pads just in time to deny Andrew Cogliano on a penalty shot after Cogliano was pulled down by Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a breakaway. Minutes later Perry had LaBarbera beat on an outstretched move across the crease but his shot rang off the crossbar. Perry was denied again on a 2-on-1 with Ryan in the waning seconds of the period as LaBarbera got his right leg down.
“It feels good, for sure,” said LaBarbera, who stopped 23 of 24 shots. “You put in the work and you put in the time and you wait and wait and wait. I felt I played well, but we obviously didn't' get the win, so that part's frustrating.”
Coyotes captain Shane Doan agreed.
"We knew it was going to be a close game," Doan said. "Both teams wanted to be better defensively and there weren't as many chances. The first period is what cost us. We have to be better to start the game, and that starts with me."
FIVE FOR PHOENIX
1. Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera made just his third start of the season and his first since Jan. 26. He stopped 22 of 23 shots and has stopped 37 of 38 shots over his past three outings – two in relief of starter Mike Smith.
2. Phoenix managed just 18 shots on a goal – its lowest total of the season.
3. Defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 278th consecutive game – all with Phoenix. He ranks second overall among NHL defensemen on the active consecutive games played list behind Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester (609).
4. Phoenix went 0 for 4 on the power play and is just 1 for 11 over the past five games.
5. Forward Radim Vrbata was scratched for the eighth straight game because of a lower-body injury.