By Dave Vest
ANAHEIM – Trailing 4-0 early in the third period on Saturday night at the Honda Center, the Coyotes could have packed it in over the final 16:29 and then flown back to Phoenix a humbled bunch.
They took another route and nearly pulled off a furious, come-from-behind victory.
Keith Yandle, Scottie Upshall and Shane Doan each scored as Phoenix (10-7-0) rallied to within one goal with 5:24 to play. The comeback bid fell a goal short, however, and Anaheim held on for a 4-3 triumph.
Yandle started the rally by stealing a pass by Ryan Getzlaf in the Anaheim zone and wristing a shot past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller from the slot at 6:27 of the third period.
Upshall followed Yandle’s lead by skating through traffic from the left circle and sliding the puck between Hiller's legs less than a minute later.
Doan, who played another solid all-around game, then banged a rebound past Hiller from inside the crease at 14:36 to make the Anaheim bench and the crowd inside the rink just a bit uneasy.
Head Coach Dave Tippett pulled goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from the net with one minute to play, but the Coyotes couldn’t score the game-tying goal with the extra attacker.
“We got down early and we took some penalties again that are frustrating, but I liked the way the guys battled and got themselves back in the game,” Tippett said.
Penalties disrupted Phoenix’s offensive rhythm for the first two-plus periods. The first one – a holding call against defenseman Adrian Aucoin proved costly on the scoreboard. With 58 seconds left in the power play, Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne beat Bryzgalov with a wrist shot from between the circles at 2:49 of the first period. Anaheim’s Saku Koivu screened Bryzgalov nicely on the play.
Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry scored even-strength goals in the second period as Anaheim built a 3-0 lead.
Mike Brown’s goal moments after a faceoff win by teammate Todd Marchant in the Phoenix zone seemed to be a cosmetic goal for Anaheim (6-7-2) when he scored it at 3:31 of the third period. It turned out to be decisive.
Scott Niedermayer had two assists for Anaheim.
"We're heading in the right direction now," Niedermayer told reporters. "Considering how the last few weeks have gone here, it's good to come out with a couple of wins here at home."
Mathew Lombardi had two assists for the Coyotes, who are off until Thursday at home against Montreal.
The Coyotes nearly tied the score at 4 late in the third period when center Martin Hanzal found himself possessing the puck in close with a half-empty Anaheim net in sight. Hanzal, however, couldn’t keep his balance and fell backward while shooting the puck and his shot crossed the crease instead of going into the net.
• The Coyotes played without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who watched from the press box because of a lower-body injury he suffered in Thursday’s game vs. Chicago. Defenseman Shaun Heshka replaced Jovanovski and played 15:33 in his NHL debut. Heshka took a shot on goal, delivered two hits and blocked a shot. He also was called for a delay-of-game penalty and was a minus-1.
• Forward Daniel Winnik had to leave the game for a few minutes after a loose puck struck him just above the right eye early in the second period.
• Forward Radim Vrbata batted the puck into the Anaheim net 15 seconds into the third period, but the officials ruled that he struck the puck with a high stick moments before his shot.
• Phoenix has committed an unprecedented six delay-of-game penalties in the past five games.
• Forward Scottie Upshall has scored three goals in the past three games and leads the team with six.