By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The game started later than usual for a Saturday night but the framework for the outcome was set early as the Coyotes twice scored in the first period and then held on for a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Jobing.com Arena.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov posted a shutout for 56:41 and finished with 26 saves in his ninth consecutive start. The Senators scored twice in the final 3:19 to make Phoenix Head Coach Dave Tippett, his players and all the fans who stayed until the final horn a bit uneasy, but the Coyotes managed to thwart a complete comeback by Ottawa and posted their fourth consecutive victory.
"The reality is we're better than we played tonight so you can be happy with two points and we are very happy with two points," Tippett said. "But for us to be as good a team as we need to be, we have to be better ... for longer stretches, make smarter plays, and play with the lead better than we did tonight.”
Phoenix (17-11-1) led 2-0 after seven shots thanks to goals by defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forward Taylor Pyatt scored within the first nine minutes of the game.
Jovanovski, who returned to the lineup after missing 10 of the past 12 games because of a nagging lower-body injury, gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead by wristing the puck from the top of the slot through traffic and past Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott at 3:38.
Pyatt scored his second goal in as many games at 8:49 (see KEY MOMENT below) and the struggling Senators (13-10-4), who have lost seven road games in a row, were in a hole.
"I think the first 10 minutes of the game was really the difference of the game," Senators Head Coach Cory Clouston told reporters. "They capitalized on a couple of their early chances, we didn’t and that was the difference in the game."
Leading 2-0, Coyotes forward Petr Prucha scored a goal at 10:25 of the second period after linemate Radim Vrbata fought hard to keep the puck deep in the Ottawa zone. Prucha lifted the loose puck over Elliott’s right shoulder for his second goal in two games.
The Coyotes had more than one chance to score an extra goal in the final moments, but they couldn't put the puck into Ottawa's empty net.
Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt scored an unassisted goal at 8:49 of the first period to give Phoenix a 2-0 lead. Pyatt set up his goal by blocking a shot by Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson near the Phoenix blue line.
After the block, Pyatt maneuvered around Karlsson, gained control of the puck and then skated at Elliott up the left side. Once deep inside the Ottawa zone, Pyatt angled toward Elliott and beat him with a sly backhanded shot.
• The victory was Phoenix’s fourth in a row, which ties a season-high. The Coyotes also won four consecutive games – over San Jose, St. Louis, Boston and Detroit – from Oct 12-22.
• Despite missing 10 games, defenseman Ed Jovanovski ranks tied for fourth on the team with 14 points.
• Coyotes center Robert Lang flirted with scoring his seventh goal of the season late in the second period. In the final seconds of a power play, Lang took a two-on-one pass from Matthew Lombardi and launched a shot at a half-open Ottawa net. The puck clanged off the right post at 14:39.
• The victory snapped Phoenix’s five-game losing streak to Ottawa. Before Saturday, the Coyotes last beat Ottawa on March 9, 2002.
• Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik delivered a few hits in the game, including a beauty on Ottawa forward Milan Michalek late in the second period that triggered a retaliation roughing penalty on Senators defenseman Matt Carkner.
• The Coyotes are 7-1-0 in games in which they’ve led after the first period.