Associated Press COLUMBUS -- No one was certain how Derek Morris' shot made it into the net. But it did.
Morris' slap shot with 9:16 left in the third period went in off Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon's back (see KEY MOMENT below). It was the game-winning goal in the Coyotes' 4-3 victory over the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
With the victory, its fourth in the past five games, Phoenix jumped from seventh in the Western Conference standings to fifth.
The Coyotes (21-13-9) arrived in Columbus early on Tuesday after a 4-3 victory at St. Louis on Monday. The team from the desert was greeted by a steady snowfall.
"We gave up a couple early (goals) but we came in, we had nothing to lose," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We got here at 3 o'clock in the morning, in a snowstorm. (This was) just a good night for hockey and our guys were enjoying it. We felt like we could come back."
The Blue Jackets certainly didn't enjoy it.
The loss was their fifth in a row. Jared Boll, Rostislav Klesla and Kristian Huselius scored goals, Fedor Tyutin had two assists and Garon made 24 saves.
But it ended up as just another frustrating night for a club that is 6-14-3 since Nov. 24.
"That goal at the end, obviously when you lose four in a row that is the type of goal that goes in," Columbus Head coach Scott Arniel said. "When you are on winning streaks those stay out."
Photo by Getty Images.
Down 3-2 heading into the third, Phoenix tied the score on Vrbata's goal in the opening minute. In a picture-perfect display of tic-tac-toe passing, Shane Doan passed to Hanzal who fed Ray Whitney. He then fed Vrbata near the hash marks for the equalizer on a one-timer.
"We're getting some breaks, we're doing some good things, we're getting rewarded for some work," Tippett said. "Our penalty-killers did an especially good job for us 5-on-3 a couple times there. We really battled hard."
Columbus (20-20-3) had plenty of chances to pull even.
The Blue Jackets, next to last in the NHL on the power play, failed to score with 50 seconds of 5-on-3 play early in the third period.
Phoenix then successfully killed another lengthy two-man disadvantage for most of the final two minutes when the Coyotes had two men in the penalty box and the Blue Jackets pulled Garon for an extra attacker.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com compiled this recap.
Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon used his blocker to deflect Derek Morris' shot from the point just as Martin Hanzal provided traffic in front. The puck glanced up and over Garon's head, landed on his jersey number and trickled into the net.
"It's one of those plays that you do all the time," Morris said. "The power forward makes a good play from the corner up. Marty did a great job going to the net somehow... You'll take any goals you can get."
• Defenseman Michal Rozsival, whom the Coyotes aquired from the New York Rangers on Monday in a trade for forward Wojtek Wolski, did not join the team in Columbus on Tuesday because of travel issues. Instead, Rozsival will try to fly to Phoenix on Wednesday. Click here to listen to an exclusive interview with him.
• Center Eric Belanger ended a 27-game goal-scoring drought by scoring an even-strength goal in the second period.
• Defenseman Derek Morris ended a 20-game goal-scoring drought by scoring an even-strength goal in the third period.
• The Coyotes upped their record to 4-12-3 in games in which they've trailed after two periods, and to 7-2-2 vs. teams from the Central Division.
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. Toronto at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"We just kept coming at them. Every line contributed one way or
another. It was a great win on the road. It's nice to go home now for
a homestand. We're excited about it."
"We feel like if we play 60 minutes good things will happen. It's
coming along. We're happy with the last two games. We count on
everybody. Every guy is so important and that's what makes us
"(Morris) took a shot, (Hanzal) was kind of in front and touched me and kind of interfered with me a little bit. I stopped it but I couldn't get the rebound and I don't know if it went straight in the net or up and back in the net."