By Dave Vest
DETROIT – Trailing by two goals with less than two minutes left in Tuesday night’s game against the Red Wings, the Coyotes’ sixth consecutive loss at Joe Louis Arena appeared imminent.
Then, something extraordinary happened.
Phoenix (30-18-5), with a national television audience watching, managed to score three unanswered goals to transform a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 overtime triumph.
Captain Shane Doan scored the game-deciding goal at 3:50 of overtime to punctuate his first four-point game of the season and redeem himself for taking a head-scratching roughing penalty in the third period that led to Detroit’s fourth goal.
"I got to the net, there was a rebound," Doan said. "I kind of took it to the forehand and found a way to put it in."
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle scored his second goal of the game on a power play at 18:30 of the third period to pull Phoenix to within 4-3. In a bold move, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett had pulled goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to give Phoenix a 6-4 advantage in skaters. It worked.
Later, with Bryzgalov still watching from the bench, defenseman Ed Jovanovski tied the score at 4 at 19:37 (see KEY MOMENT below).
Not content with just earning one point, the Coyotes came at the stunned Red Wings aggressively in the extra session. Doan scored his goal moments after Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard had blocked a shot by Matthew Lombardi.
"We made a couple of mistakes early in the game that put us behind the 8-ball, but we found a way to dig ourselves out of it," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was named the game’s first star - presumably before the Phoenix comeback – for putting Detroit ahead 4-2 by scoring two goals within a four-minute span of the third period. Remarkably, the Red Wings (25-18-9) could not hold a third-period lead for a fourth consecutive game.
"Anyway you look at it it's a tough loss for us," Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock told reporters. "We were in a situation for us to get two points and them to get none. Then they end up with two and we get one and it doesn't help build any confidence either."
Trailing 4-3, Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski scored a goal with 23 seconds left in the third period. Standing firm in a scrum at the top of the crease, Jovanovski swept the loose puck between the legs of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and an ear-splitting hush fell over the crowd inside Joe Louis Arena.
• The Coyotes have reached 30 wins after 53 games. No other team in franchise history has won 30 games so early in a season.
• Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 32 of 36 shots to earn his 27th victory of the season. The 27 wins are the most Bryzgalov has recorded for one team in one season since breaking into the NHL with Anaheim in 2001-02.
• Forward Daniel Winnik, who missed the past two games because of an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup. Winnik played 12:51, including 2:34 killing penalties.
• Three of Phoenix’s five goals were scored by defensemen. For the season, defensemen have accounted for 31 of Phoenix’s 144 goals (21.5 percent).
• Forward Scottie Upshall’s goal in the second period was his team-high 18th goal of the season.
• The Coyotes won 39 of 65 faceoffs. Center Matthew Lombardi led the way by winning 10 of 15 draws.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette and Jim Vandermeer. The Red Wings scratched Tomas Holmstrom, Ville Leino and Derek Meech.
"It's a big confidence boost. We've got a great group of guys in here and we're a no-quit team when we're playing good and playing hard. Against a team like that you can never quit. We just wanted to go out there and play the full 60 minutes."
"Whenever you get the OT winner it's exciting and it's special. I love it. It's a big game for us to keep climbing in the standings and stay with teams. There's a lot of teams that are ahead of us in points that we've got to try to catch."
"We have to find a way out of this... It's not fun. It's disappointing when you're giving points away the way we have been. We know we need the points right now."
• Dec. 14, 2009: DET 3, PHX 2
• Jan. 26, 2010: PHX 5, DET 4 (OT)
• Oct. 22, 2009: PHX 3, DET 2 (OT)
• Jan. 2, 2010: DET 4, PHX 1
1 - 0 DET
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHX
2 - 2 Tie