DENVER – Coyotes goalie Al Montoya began his NHL career in style on Wednesday night by posting a 23-save shutout of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Phoenix won 3-0.
No other goalie in the nearly 30-year history of the franchise ever has blanked an opponent in his first game in the league.
“It’s unbelievable,” Montoya said. “I came out here with the mentality to give my team a chance and make some saves...The shutout is frosting on top.”
Phoenix dominated the first period, and 12 different Coyotes had at least one shot on goal. Meanwhile, the Avalanche managed only five shots on Phoenix’s rookie netminder.
“They didn’t have many shots off the bat there so I just had to stay focused and maintain that,” Montoya said. “…I was hoping just to stop the puck. It didn’t matter what they were throwing at me, (I was) just being focused and ready for the next shot and just competing.”
Rookie Mikkel Boedker gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead when he gathered a rebound in front of the Avalanche goal, skated to his left a few feet, then wristed the puck past Avalanche goalie Andrew Raycroft at 6:28 of the first period. The goal was Boedker’s first since Feb. 21.
I was hoping just to stop the puck. It didn’t matter what they were throwing at me, (I was) just being focused and ready for the next shot and just competing.”- Al Montoya
“It’s never fun to not score goals when you’re an offensive guy so, yeah, it was nice to score, but it was better that we got the win and that Al played real well,” Boedker said. “It was a lot of fun today.”
Captain Shane Doan made the score 2-0 at 7:71 of the second period by launching a shot from the top of the right circle off the left post and past Raycroft. The goal was Doan’s 30th of the season, matching his career-high. Doan has five more games to score No. 31.
“It’s nice to get (30 goals),” Doan said. “…with the way things are finishing up you want to accomplish some things, and for us to win is huge.”
Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored an empty-net goal with 2.2 seconds left in the third period.
After facing just five shots in his first NHL period, Montoya made 15 saves in the second period and three more in the third to secure his shutout. Montoya’s biggest test of the game came with 6:09 left in the second period when Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles fired a hard shot at him from the top of the right circle just seconds into a power play.
Teammates mobbed Montoya after the game, and Head Coach Wayne Gretzky quickly announced he would reward Montoya, 24, by giving him another start Thursday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings.
The injury-depleted Avalanche have lost eight games in a row for the first time since moving to Colorado in 1995. In their past four home games, they have been outscored 22-4.
“It definitely has been a different experience than in the past," Milan Hejduk, one of three players left from Colorado's 2001 Stanley Cup championship team, told reporters. "It has been difficult for me. I can't picture this team having losing streaks like other teams."
• The last goalie to record a shutout in his NHL debut was Mike Smith of the Dallas Stars, against the Coyotes, on Oct. 21, 2006.
• Coyotes defenseman David Hale, a native of Colorado, and Avalanche forward Ian Laperriere swapped punches midway through the second period.
• Ryan Smyth, Colorado’s leading point scorer, suffered a hand injury in the first period and played sparingly after that.
• The teams combined to go 0 for 11 on power plays.
• Fourteen players were scratched. Phoenix’s scratches were forwards Todd Fedoruk, Steven Reinprecht, Brandon Prust, Kyle Turris, and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin.
• Coyotes defenseman Ken Klee was named an alternate captain for the first time this season.
• Coyotes forward Brian McGrattan had shoulder surgery on Wednesday.