By Dave Vest COLUMBUS -- Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera made 31 saves as Phoenix beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1, Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
At Tuesday's practice, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett spoke about how some of his players needed to start contributing offensively. Three of them - center Martin Hanzal, and defensemen Jim Vandermeer and Zbynek Michalek - responded with their first goals of the season.
"It was a good, solid group effort," Tippett said. "We have to continue to build on that. We want consistency of that - not up and down - and that's what we're looking for."
The Coyotes (7-4-1) went 3 for 6 on their power plays.
“We’re not doing a good job killing penalties and we’re paying for it," Blue Jackts Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you can’t kill penalties, it puts a lot of pressure on other areas (of the game). We’ll work on it; we have work to do there.”
The victory was the first for LaBarbera since signing with the Coyotes in the off-season. In two-plus games, he has stopped 80 of 84 shots.
Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Phoenix knotted the score at 10:33 when Hanzal poked a rebound past Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason early in a power play. Defenseman Keith Yandle set up the goal with a shot from the left side that Ed Jovanovski redirected at Mason.
The Coyotes took the lead for good at 13:17 of the second period when Vandermeer's shot from the left point ricocheted off defender Fedor Tyutin and into the Columbus goal.
In the third period, Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard was called for goaltender interference at 9:55. Halfway through the power play, Michalek beat Mason with a powerful slap shot from between the circles.
Center Robert Lang added a cosmetic goal for the Coyotes late in the third period.
The Blue Jackets (6-5-0) outshot the Coyotes 13-4 in the first period, but LaBarbera made 12 saves to keep his team in the game.
Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall was called for a four-minute penalty at 17:21 when he drew blood from Marc Methot's face with his stick. Exactly one minute later, Brassard beat LaBarbera with a high shot from the bottom of the right circle after a shot from the point by Kris Russell failed to get through traffic in front of the Phoenix net.
Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera made several dazzling stops, but the most crucial one came with 2:59 left in the second period when he made a nifty pad save on a shot from between the circles by Columbus center Antoine Vermette to preserve a 2-1 lead. Later, during a four-on-four segment in the third period, LaBarbera stopped a shot by Derick Brassard to foil a two-on-one rush.
• Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle had a career-high three assists. His prettiest came when he gathered a loose puck in the Columbus zone and nicely slid the puck to Robert Lang to set up an easy goal in the third period.
• Fans inside Nationwide Arena gave Coyotes Assistant Coach Dave King a standing ovation when he was acknowledged on the center-ice scoreboard late in the first period. King was the head coach of the Blue Jackets when they first entered the NHL in 2000-01.
• Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall totaled six minutes of penalties in the second period. As a result, he played just 1:35 in the third period.
• The Coyotes scratched Lauri Korpikoski and Sean Sullivan. Columbus scratched Michael Blunden and Mathieu Roy.
• Before the game, the Coyotes announced a time change for the team’s game vs. the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, Dec. 26 at Jobing.com Arena. The game will now start at 7 p.m. (Arizona time) instead of the originally scheduled start time of 6:00 p.m..
"Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re on vacation, but at the same time, you know, your job is to be ready. You never know when you’re going to go in. So that’s part of the gig, you know, you always have to be ready."
"We didn’t go chasing anybody... Any time you do play a team like that you have to be careful and just make sure you give them the least chances you can."
"I think we did alright in the first period. After that we just didn’t do the simple things, didn’t get pucks deep, and didn’t do the hard things to win at home."