By Dave Vest
ST. LOUIS – Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov rebounded from his only poor performance of the season with a gem on Thursday night, and the Coyotes beat the St. Louis Blues, 2-0, at the Scottrade Center.
Bryzgalov, who was pulled from his last outing on Monday vs. the New York Rangers, stopped all 32 shots he faced to earn his third shutout in 10 starts.
His teammates didn’t play a flashy game, but they played a gritty and solid game, and all of their hard work was rewarded with two points.
“That’s the way we want to play,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “That’s a hard-fought game and that’s what I think the identity of our team is. We’re going to score by committee. There’s not going to be anybody jump out at you, but we’re going to compete awful hard (and) we’re going to get good goaltending and that gives us a chance to win.”
Linemates Daniel Winnik and Taylor Pyatt scored for Phoenix (8-4-0), which rallied to earn four of six points on a three-game trip. Vernon Fiddler, the third member of their line, assisted on both goals. His second assist was the 100th point of his NHL career.
“I think we all have offensive abilities in us and I think Tippett sees that and he trusts us defensively, and that helps us as well,” Winnik said of his line. “We can play against any four lines that any team throws out at us and we seem to pounce on the offensive chances when we have them.”
Forty-eight seconds after one of their two power plays ended, the Coyotes took the lead when Winnik wristed a shot from the top of the right circle over Blues goalie Ty Conklin's stick at 2:48 of the second period.
Pyatt scored his first goal with Phoenix at 2:54 of the third period with a backhanded shot that beat Conklin. Fiddler set up the goal with a perfect pass to Pyatt from the right side that slid between a defender's legs as Pyatt charged down the slot.
The Coyotes were called for three penalties in the first period but killed them all, including a five-on-three disadvantage that lasted 26 seconds.
The Blues dropped to 5-5-1.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made his best two stops of the game within seconds near the end of the second period. With 20 seconds left, he made a kick save with his right pad to stop a shot by Blues forward Jay McClement. He then made a kick save with his left pad when Blues forward Brandon Crombeen tried to jam the rebound past him from the crease.
• Head Coach Dave Tippett sent his team a message by scratching forward Scottie Upshall, who was called for six minutes of penalties in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory at Columbus. “He took some bad penalties last night that could have cost us,” Tippett said. “… With the team I talk about percentages of winning (and how to) do things that give you the best percentages of winning. When you are taking stick penalties, you’re just looking to shoot yourself in the foot. That’s an area that we have to clean up in our game. It just goes without saying. If we’re going to be a disciplined hockey team, you can’t take bad stick penalties.” Meanwhile, St. Louis scratched Carlo Colaiacovo and Brad Winchester.
• Forward Lauri Korpikoski came about an inch from scoring his first goal in regulation for the Coyotes late in the game, but Blues forward Paul Kariya blocked his shot at an empty net with the shaft of his stick at the last instance.
• Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata, who has just scored just one goal in the past 10 games, had a team-high seven shots on goal in 13:15 of ice time.
• Coyotes defenseman Jim Vandermeer took a hard shot off one of his legs in the second period but kept playing.
"Today and last night (in Columbus) we had really good work ethic, luck on our side and I think our team played outstanding. Everyone from our team brings something to the table."
"I thought our line played pretty well tonight and it’s definitely nice to get that first goal and to help win the game. It feels good."
"(Bryzgalov) was excellent. We just couldn't get nothing by him.”