COYOTES VS. LIGHTNING
Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:47 PM
LOVELAND, Colo. - Peter Mueller and Radim Vrbata each scored a goal in regulation and a goal in the shootout to lead the Coyotes to a 4-3 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Down 1-0 early in the second period, the Coyotes scored power-play goals 43 seconds apart. Vrbata netted the first goal when he knocked a rebound past Antero Niittymaki at 4:10 during a five-on-three Phoenix advantage. Mueller, who is nursing a minor groin injury, scored the second goal with a blast from the right point through traffic at 4:53.
Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, pulled Tampa Bay into a 2-2 tie at 10:17 of the second period by scoring a goal just eight seconds after Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin was whistled for hooking.
The teams traded even-strength goals in the third period to set up the shootout. Vincent LeCavalier netted Tampa Bay's third goal at 3:16. Scottie Upshall answered with a goal for Phoenix 34 seconds later.
Mattias Ohlund started the shootout for Tampa Bay, but his shot at Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera was too far to the right. Shane Doan then attempted to score on Niittymaki, but the Tampa Bay goalie did not allow the puck to go between his legs.
After LaBarbera stopped a try by Alex Tanguay, Vrbata calmly skated in on Niittymaki and beat him with a backhanded shot.
LeCavalier answered for Tampa Bay with a pretty move and goal, but Mueller ended the game by beating Niittymaki with a high shot to his glove slide.
"I just went in there and did a little deke and fanned on it a little bit," Mueller said of his game-winning shot. "But it went right between his arm and his pad and trickled in there."
LaBarbera stopped 15 of 18 shots, and nine Coyotes notched a point.
"I thought it was a good game and there was real flow to it," Coyotes Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson said. "A lot of our boys played hard. I thought (Vernon) Fiddler and Upshall and (Mikkel) Boedker had outstanding games. "
The Coyotes are expected to make at least five more roster cuts before wrapping up the preseason schedule on Saturday night at home against the San Jose Sharks.
Wednesday's game was played about 45 miles north of Denver at the Budweiser Events Center, which is the 7,200 seat home of the Colorado Eagles, a Central Hockey League team now affiliated with Tampa Bay. No official attendance number was announced.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to listen to a post-game interview with Vrbata.