By Dave Vest
COLUMBUS –Shane Doan marked his 1,000th NHL game by scoring a key shootout goal, and backup goalie Jason LaBarbera made 38 saves in 65 minutes to lead the Coyotes to a 2-1 victory over Columbus Thursday night at Nationwide Arena.
Doan’s goal (see KEY MOMENT below) tied the shootout 1-1 after two rounds. After LaBarbera poke-checked the puck away from Fedor Tyutin on Columbus’ third try, Coyotes forward Robert Lang won the game with a smooth wrist shot between the legs of Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon.
Clearly, the drama of the shootout disguised the fact that Phoenix’s win wasn’t pretty in comparison to its 6-3 triumph over Toronto the night before. The Coyotes took seven penalties to disrupt its offensive flow and was outshot 39-27 by Columbus (14-14-7).
“It was a masterpiece, wasn’t it?” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett joked after his team’s 21st victory in 35 games. “It was like a high-priced painting... They can’t all be pretty and that one wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to get points… We made some mistakes that could have cost us but they didn’t.”
The Coyotes (21-12-2) took the two points and then flew four and a half hours to Anaheim where they will conclude this hectic four-game trip on Saturday afternoon.
LaBarbera, playing his first game since Nov. 16, stopped the first 26 shots he faced. His only hiccups came when Blue Jackets star Rick Nash beat him with a hard shot from the right circle during a power play at 8:19 of the third period, and when Nash made a nice move to get the puck past him in the shootout.
Leading 1-0, LaBarbera made his best save at 18:26 of the second period when Blue Jackets defenseman Anton Stralman skated in alone through the right circle, paused, and then tried to wrist the puck past him.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, who helped three teammates score goals on Wednesday, lit the lamp himself at 1:48 of the first period. His goal officially was unassisted, but forward Paul Bissonnette helped set it up by delivering a check on Blue Jackets forward Jakub Voracek in front of the Columbus bench. The hit helped separate Voracek from the puck, and Yandle gobbled it up, skated across the slot and wristed a shot over Garon’s glove.
Columbus is 0-3-2 in its past five games.
"We've played almost identical to the way we did when we were having success," Columbus Head Coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. "We're starting to play the game the right way. A lot of guys are starting to play much better hockey."
After Radim Vrbata failed to score on Phoenix’s first shot of the shootout, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett sent Shane Doan on the ice to take the second shot hoping Doan would rise to the occasion in his 1,000th NHL game. Doan delivered by backhanding the puck through the legs of Blue Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon.
It was a special moment for Doan, whose daughter Gracie turned 11 years old on Thursday.
“It’s a huge blessing," Doan said when asked to refelect on playing his 1,000th game. "It’s hard to say what it really means right now. It will probably mean a lot more to me later on. Right now, that was a big win for us and we needed it.”
• Captain Shane Doan, who joined Teppo Numminen (1,098) as the only players to play 1,000 games for the franchise, ranks fifth among active NHL players in most games played with one team behind Mike Modano, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper and Martin Brodeur. Doan's feat was acknowledged on the scoreboard early in the first period.
• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek took a high-stick to the face from Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius and dropped to the ice midway through the second period. Michalek stayed in the game and ended up playing a game-high 30 minutes and blocking five shots.
• Forward Paul Bissonnette fought for the 11th time this season. His bout with Blue Jackets enforcer Jared Boll came in response to a hard check Boll delivered on Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler early in the second period.
• Center Matthew Lombardi won 11 of 13 faceoffs.
• The Coyotes are 8-1-1 over their past 10 games.
• The Coyotes scratched Peter Mueller and David Schlemko. Both are healthy. Columbus scratched Mike Blunden and Marc Methot.
"Any time you can score a game-winning goal, it’s great. It was fun. I don’t think any of us are jumping up and down because it was a fabulous game, but it’s two points. That’s what’s important."
"I don't think it was our best effort, but we did enough to get the points. To be able to get two points out of a game like that for Shane Doan is pretty special."
"It would have been nice if we could have won the shootout and sent (the fans) home happy. ... We really need them right now."