NYR
45-31-6
PHX
37-30-15

24 SOG
32 SOG

Vrbata's Hat Trick Powers Coyotes Past Rangers

Jerry Brown  - NHL.com Correspondent | Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 9:50 AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Phoenix Coyotes have been talking with Radim Vrbata about a contract extension during the past few weeks. The sticker price for general manager Don Maloney might have just gone up.

Vrbata had a hat trick in last season's final game on April 27 against the Anaheim Ducks and picked right up where he left off, opening the new season with a natural hat trick that made the difference Thursday night 4-1 win against the New York Rangers at Jobing.com Arena.

Vrbata had a career-high 35 goals in 2011-12, when he helped the Coyotes to the Western Conference Finals. He dropped to 12 goals in the shortened 2012-13 season but seven of them came in three games - including five in the first and last games of the season.

The Coyotes are now 73-17-9 in the 99 games in which Vrbata has scored at least one goal, but they couldn't ask for more this time.

"It's a good start to the season. I'll take it," Vrbata said. "We jumped on them early and we played our game most of the night. We went after them and played how we have to play to win. It's great to get a hat trick, but it was exciting to see us play well and beat a good team."

Kyle Chipchura scored the Coyotes' first goal, but it was all Vrbata from there. He snapped a 1-1 tie with a hard-working goal 7:05 into the second period, added a power-play blast from the point 1:10 into the third and won a scramble in front of the net to pop home No. 3 with 12:37 left -- triggering a cascade of hats and sending the Coyotes off on a five-game road trip with some momentum.

"We'll be OK if he just gets one goal next game instead of three; we can work with that," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett joked. "He's been a real good player for us, and that third goal in tight was a really good play. That line [with Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski] played against their top line all night and did a great job."

Defenseman Marc Staal had a strong game for the Rangers and scored New York's lone goal during a power play 3:38 into the second period. In the first of nine road games to open the season, New York played without captain Ryan Callahan and forward Carl Hagelin and had trouble sustaining a sustained offensive push. Phoenix goalie Mike Smith made 23 saves and opened the season with a strong effort.

"When we got caught on there on some long changes we got running around," Staal said. "That's something we have to iron out. I thought parts of the game we had some good pressure to get good opportunities. Smith made some big saves in the first and second and we fell too far behind in the third."

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist came into the game with a perfect 4-0-0 career record and a 1.71 goals-against average against the Coyotes. He made 28 saves on Thursday but had no answer for Vrbata, who scored on three of his four shots as the Coyotes spoiled the Rangers coaching debut of Alain Vigneault, who replaced John Tortorella during the offseason.

"We had some opportunities. We just needed to make some plays," said Vigneault, whose team is off until it visits the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. "We have to make the right plays with the puck."

After a standing ovation as the new nine-man ownership group who allowed the Coyotes to stay in Arizona was introduced at center ice, the Coyotes rode the energy of the opening night crowd to dominate the first five minutes and grab an early lead.

Just 3:36 after the opening faceoff, the Coyotes' fourth line pinned the Rangers in their own zone on the forecheck. Rob Klinkhammer feathered a pass from behind the net to the slot, where Chipchura punched a shot past Lundqvist. Phoenix had the first five shots of the game before New York's Michael Del Zotto tested Smith five minutes in.

Smith, who struggled last season with injuries and inconsistency, preserved the lead with several big saves during the remainder of the period. He went post to post to rob Benoit Pouliot on a 3-on-2 rush, snagged a Brad Richards power-play blast and stopped Anton Stralman from the slot.

"It felt like a playoff game in the building and we just fed off it," Smith said. "To see all the owners who bought the team and kept us here, it was unbelievable. But I don't think we're going to reinvent the wheel because we have new ownership. In order for this team to win we have to play a certain way and we did that tonight."

The Rangers started the second period with a push and it led to a feel-good, game-tying goal.

David Schlemko's interference penalty at 1:58 gave New York a power play, and Rick Nash drew both Phoenix defensemen toward him on the rush before feeding Staal on the wing. In just his second game since March 5, when a deflected shot by Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen struck his right eye, Staal beat Smith to the short side under the crossbar with a wrist shot to make it 1-1.

The goal didn't provide much momentum for the Rangers. Phoenix answered right away with offensive pressure, forced John Moore to take a hooking penalty and attacked the New York net for almost the entire two minutes. And when the Rangers couldn't make a change after the penalty ended, Phoenix cashed in.

Lundqvist stopped a Derek Morris shot from the right point, but the rebound escaped into the slot. Vrbata grabbed the puck and was denied on a backhander, but ran down his own miss a flipped a forehand past Lundqvist at 7:05.

Lundqvist felt he might have been interfered with on the play.

"It was definitely tough for me to move" he said. "I was inside my crease and there could have been a call they didn't call it. It was a big goal.

"We felt like we were back in the game and playing really well but that second goal turned it back to their favor."

Vrbata put the game away in the third.

After New York's Dan Girardi was called for roughing at 1:02, Antoine Vermette won the draw back to Keith Yandle. Yandle set up Vrbata for a point blast that found its way through a Hanzal screen and past Lundqvist eight seconds later to give Phoenix a cushion. Vrbata put the game away again with a second-effort goal for his seventh career hat trick.

1st2nd3rdT
NYR
PHX
Scoring Summary
1st Period
03:36PHX Kyle Chipchura (1) ASST: Rob Klinkhammer (1), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1) 1 - 0 PHX
2nd Period
03:38NYR PPG - Marc Staal (1) ASST: Rick Nash (1), Derek Stepan (1) 1 - 1 Tie
07:05PHX Radim Vrbata (1) ASST: Martin Hanzal (1), Derek Morris (1) 2 - 1 PHX
3rd Period
01:10PHX PPG - Radim Vrbata (2) ASST: Keith Yandle (1), Antoine Vermette (1) 3 - 1 PHX
07:23PHX Radim Vrbata (3) ASST: Martin Hanzal (2) 4 - 1 PHX
Three Stars of the Game
Radim Vrbata
1st
Radim Vrbata
RW
G: 3Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 3PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 15:18
Mike Smith
2nd
Mike Smith
G
SA: 24TOI: 60:00
GA: 1EV: 15-15
PIM: 0PP: 8-9
SV%: .958SH: 0-0
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
3rd
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
D
G: 0Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 22:34
Penalty Summary
1st Period
01:06NYR Benoit Pouliot  Holding against  Lucas Lessio
05:18PHX David Rundblad  Holding against  Derek Dorsett
16:33PHX Keith Yandle  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
2nd Period
01:58PHX David Schlemko  Interference against  Derick Brassard
04:46NYR John Moore  Hooking against  David Moss
3rd Period
01:02NYR Dan Girardi  Roughing against  Mikkel Boedker
06:50PHX Lucas Lessio  Roughing against  J.T. Miller
06:50NYR J.T. Miller  Roughing against  Lucas Lessio
13:05NYR Derek Dorsett  Fighting (maj) against  Chris Brown
13:05PHX Chris Brown  Fighting (maj) against  Derek Dorsett
13:05PHX Chris Brown  Instigator against  Derek Dorsett
13:05PHX Chris Brown  Instigator - Misconduct against  Derek Dorsett
17:56PHX Martin Hanzal  Fighting (maj) against  Rick Nash
17:56NYR Rick Nash  Fighting (maj) against  Martin Hanzal
shots by period
PeriodNYRPHX
1st88
2nd916
3rd78
Total2432
Team Stats
CategoryNYRPHX
Power Plays1/41/3
Hits2622
Faceoff Wins2226
Giveaways16
Takeaways313
Blocked Shots1817
Penalty Minutes1830
  • NY RANGERS
  • PHOENIX
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
4M. Del ZottoD00-21024:21
5D. GirardiD00-11222:17
6A. StralmanD0002014:27
10J. MillerC0001211:58
12J. FastR0001010:13
14T. PyattL0000015:14
15D. DorsettR00-11511:33
16D. BrassardC0001016:04
17J. MooreD00-20214:07
18M. StaalD10-12025:40
19B. RichardsC00-14019:35
21D. StepanC01-22019:12
22B. BoyleC0003014:20
27R. McDonaghD00-11015:08
28D. MooreC00-10011:55
36M. ZuccarelloL0000017:41
61R. NashL01-22515:13
67B. PouliotL0002214:54
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
30H. Lundqvist2832.87560:00
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
2D. RundbladD0000217:57
3K. YandleD0111219:59
4Z. MichalekD0021021:38
6D. SchlemkoD0003219:27
11M. HanzalC0224516:48
17R. VrbataR3024015:18
18D. MossR0012014:25
19S. DoanR0005018:38
22L. LessioL000129:22
23Ekman-LarssonD0124022:34
24K. ChipchuraC101209:56
28L. KorpikoskiL0001013:55
36R. KlinkhammerL0110010:38
44C. BrownC0000175:27
50A. VermetteC0111016:06
53D. MorrisD0112018:45
63M. RibeiroC0001019:19
89M. BoedkerL0000020:08
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
41M. Smith2324.95860:00