By Dave Vest
ST. LOUIS – Chris Mason’s netminding and an overtime goal by Erik Johnson foiled the Coyotes’ bid for back-to-back road wins Thursday night at the Scottrade Center.
St. Louis rallied to beat Phoenix 3-2.
Johnson’s end-to-end goal 17 seconds into the extra session gave the Coyotes their first defeat in five trips to overtime.
Playing 24 hours after winning at Minnesota, Phoenix (12-9-1) entered the third period with a 2-1 lead and then dictated play for most of the final 20 minutes. Despite having multiple scoring chances, the Coyotes simply couldn’t put the Blues (7-8-4) away.
“I give our guys a lot of credit, boy,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “They competed hard and probably deserved a better fate tonight. Mason made some real key saves for them in the third.”
Mason stopped 34 shots. Thirteen of his saves came in the third period, including an acrobatic stop you’ll probably see repeatedly on NHL Network all day Friday (see Key Moment below).
Blues forward T. J. Oshie tied the score at 2 at 2:35 of the third period. After St. Louis won a face-off in Phoenix’s zone, Oshie got behind defenders, snagged a loose puck in the air with a glove, dropped it to the ice and then beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a backhanded shot.
Vernon Fiddler put the Coyotes ahead 2-1 at 1:58 of the second period after a nifty give-and-go exchange with linemate Taylor Pyatt. Stationed in the right corner, Pyatt feathered a pass to Fiddler as the latter skated toward the crease. Fiddler received the puck alone in front and slid it past Mason.
Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 3:27 of the first period when he redirected a shot past Mason. A turnover in the St. Louis zone by Blues forward Keith Tkachuk triggered the goal.
Tkachuk quickly redeemed himself by knotting the score on his next shift. Tkachuk, a former captain of the Coyotes, took control of a loose puck at the red line and skated with it around Coyotes defenseman Sami Lepisto and toward Bryzgalov from the right circle. Once close, Tkachuk backhanded a shot at Bryzgalov and Bryzgalov stopped it. The puck sat on the ice briefly before Tkachuk banged it over the line with his right skate as his rush toward the net continued.
Officials reviewed the goal to make sure Tkachuk didn’t purposely kick the puck past Bryzgalov and quickly ruled that he did not. The goal was Tkachuk’s first in 15 games.
Blues goalie Chris Mason made several dazzling saves in the game, but the one that stood out most came at 11:20 of the third period when he dived backward and to his right and blocked a shot by Petr Prucha that seemed destined for the back of the net.
• Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves. Leading 2-1, he made an impressive glove save to thwart a shot by Blues forward Paul Kariya on a three-on-two rush in the first minute of the third period.
• Radim Vrbata’s goal was initially awarded to defenseman Shaun Heshka, who took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. Officials adjusted the scorer of the goal during the first intermission. Had the original ruling stuck, it would have been Heshka’s first NHL goal in his sixth NHL game.
• Forward Taylor Pyatt returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Wednesday and played 13:56. His assist on Fiddler’s goal ended an eight-game pointless streak.
• Center Martin Hanzal, who was looking to end a five-game goal-scoring drought, had a terrific chance to do so in the second period, but Mason stoned his point-blank shot from just above the top of the crease. Hanzal had another terrific chance on breakaway, but Mason again stoned him with 11:49 left in the third period.
• The Coyotes scratched Matthew Lombardi, Kevin Porter and Ed Jovanovski. St. Louis scratched Daryl Sydor and Mike Weaver.
“It was a big effort. It’s not like we didn’t work hard. It was our second game (in two nights) so it was a little hard towards the end with heavy legs. We worked hard. We were just missing that one goal.”
“It was sort of disappointing to be a healthy scratch (Wednesday), but sometimes it gives you time to sort of step back and assess your own game. I just felt I had to get a little more involved and start making some more plays out there, and I felt like it was a step in the right direction for me tonight.”
"It felt great. Any time you score a goal it feels good. But to win a game against a good team like Phoenix, it feels even better."