NEWARK, N.J. – Scottie Upshall and Steven Reinprecht scored goals, but their tallies weren’t enough for the Coyotes on Thursday night in a 5-2 defeat to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
New Jersey scored twice against Coyotes rookie goalie Josh Tordjman within the first three minutes of the game en route to its franchise-record ninth consecutive home victory.
“They’re probably the best team there is at playing with the lead,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “We couldn’t afford to fall behind like that. We had to be better.”
The Coyotes pulled to within 2-1 when Upshall knocked a loose puck in the slot past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur with 10:26 left in the first period, but New Jersey scored the all-important next goal, and the Coyotes couldn’t recover. Veteran forward Brendan Shanahan set up New Jersey’s third goal with a no-look, backhanded pass to forward Dainius Zubrus, who one-timed the puck past Tordjman at 7:11 of the second period.
“That was a tough one because we had kind of fought our way back into the game,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “That one hurt. We lost a man in coverage, and it was 3-1.”
We’re looking forward to going home. It’s been a long trip and it’s been an emotional trip. We’ve got to reload.”- Steven Reinprecht
Trailing 5-1, Reinprecht scored his 12th goal with 2:08 left in regulation. Upshall’s goal was his third in five games since the Coyotes acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers on March 4.
Tordjman, making his second NHL start, stopped 31 of 36 shots. Brodeur made 26 saves to earn his 550th NHL victory, one shy of Patrick Roy’s record.
"The guy is a Hall of Fame goaltender, definitely one of the tops in the league," Tordjman said of Brodeur. "It was special and at the same time I took it as a challenge. When you face that guy you want to beat him for sure. It was definitely special. Those first two goals early on, that was a bump in the road. As the game got on I felt more comfortable."
New Jersey took a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the game when forward Zach Parise fired a shot from the lower left circle over Tordjman’s blocker for his 40th goal. Center John Madden upped New Jersey’s lead to 2-0 at 2:56 by tapping a centering pass by Brian Gionta from the right wing past Tordjman.
Coyotes forward Brandon Prust, acquired from Calgary on March 4, got into two fights in his second game with his new team. Prust, just back from a concussion, first swapped punches with Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador in the second period. He later traded jabs with Devils forward David Clarkson in the third.
Thursday’s loss concluded a 10-day, five-game trip for the Coyotes, who play their next four games at home. Phoenix went 1-3-1 on the trip, and added seven new faces to the team.
“We’re looking forward to going home,” Reinprecht said. “It’s been a long trip and it’s been an emotional trip. We’ve got to reload.”
• Gretzky said starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov did not play because of a sore ankle.
• The Coyotes blocked 14 shots. Defenseman Kurt Sauer led the way with four.
• Doan played in his 951st game for the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise on Thursday, moving past Thomas Steen into sole possession of second place on the club’s all-time games played list behind Teppo Numminen (1,098).
• Thirteen Devils notched at least one point.
• Forwards Enver Lisin and Kyle Turris, and defenseman David Hale were Phoenix’s healthy scratches. Center Martin Hanzal and forward Todd Fedoruk did not play because of minor upper-body injuries. New Jersey scratched forward Jay Pandolfo and defenseman Andy Greene.
1 - 0 NJD
2 - 0 NJD
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