Joffrey Lupul scored the deciding goal in the shootout to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday at the Air Canada Centre.
The shootout started with some controversy. Toronto's James van Riemsdyk was credited with a goal on the first attempt although neither referee appeared to signal the puck had gotten under Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith's pad and over the goal line.
"(Referee) Paul Devorski told me '100 percent, I saw it in,'" Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "Paul was looking down the other way, where you don't see him in the television camera, and you've got to take him for his word.
"He didn't point to it, but he told (Smith) that it was a goal."
Mikkel Boedker got the Coyotes even by scoring on the next shot, but on the third round, Lupul whipped a shot from the slot past Smith and under the crossbar before Toronto goaltender James Reimer ended the game by denying Antoine Vermette's attempt.
"It's a step in the right direction," Tippett said of getting a point. "We have a lot of guys who are banged up and trying to elevate their game. Hopefully we can build on this and go into Ottawa (on Saturday) and play well."
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 4. Morris left the team earlier this month after the death of his father. Meanwhile, forward Gilbert Brule, who last played for the Coyotes in the 2012 Playoffs, made his season debut with Phoenix, and defenseman Rostislav Klesla played after being recalled from the American Hockey League earlier in the day. Klesla assisted on Phoenix's lone goal.
"Tonight was just a good, solid team effort," Reimer said after winning for the third time in as many shootouts this season. "I'm really proud of the way the guys worked. They put in a good, honest effort. We played solid for 60 minutes. I thought we contained them well and fought hard."
The Maple Leafs had lost six in a row to the Coyotes since a 5-4 victory at Phoenix on Oct. 23, 2003. They hadn't beaten them at Air Canada Centre since winning 5-3 on Oct. 17, 2002.
Reimer stopped 34 shots; Smith made 26 saves. Phoenix, 0-2-1 in its past three games, attempted 77 shots to 47 for Toronto (18-16-3) but missed the net 22 times and had 20 attempts blocked.
Phoenix (18-10-6) generated few scoring opportunities against a stubborn Toronto defense before Martin Hanzal tied the game with 4:52 left in regulation. Hanzal came out from behind the net to the left of Reimer and scored on a wraparound. It was his ninth of the season, first in eight games, and ended the Coyotes' goal drought at 108:54.
"We wanted to play a hard road game, a simple road game," Tippett said. "We were almost too simple in the first period; we didn't create anything. But our tempo got better as the game went on, and we created multiple opportunities in the third period."
The Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead when Troy Bodie knocked in a rebound at 15:52 of the first period. Phoenix failed to clear its zone, and Peter Holland fed Cody Franson for a straightaway wrist shot from just inside the blue line. Smith saw the shot through traffic and made the stop, but Bodie was alone in front and backhanded the rebound through Smith's pads for his first of the season.
"We got a good forecheck," Bodie said. "I just went to the net and banged it in."
Bodie's goal was one of the few scoring chances in a first period when Toronto outshot Phoenix 8-5.
Defense continued to dominate in the second. Toronto had the best chance just after the 15-minute mark when a takeaway by Franson in the neutral zone led to a 3-on-1 break. Holland had his shot from the slot blocked and Smith dove to stop Lupul's try on the rebound.
Reimer faced one of his few tests through 40 minutes with 2:35 left in the period when he went right to left to deny defenseman Michael Stone's one-timer from well inside the right circle.
"I thought we really started moving our feet and getting the puck down low and playing in their end more (after the first period)," Smith said. "We can definitely take some good things out of that game. It’s not all bad."
Material from team media was used in this report.