By Dave Vest | Anthony Perez GLENDALE -- The Coyotes combined three goals from three different players with an extremely strong defensive effort to beat the Washington Capitals, 3-2, Monday night at Jobing.com Arena and launch themselves to the top of the Pacific Division standings over idle Dallas and Anaheim.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Phoenix (30-19-9) since a head-scratching 6-0 home loss to Vancouver on Feb. 2.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who has stopped 127 of 133 shots since that loss, was named the game's No. 1 Star just a few hours after the NHL named him the No. 3 Star of the Week for last week. Bryzgalov made 29 saves on Monday in his 16th consecutive start.
After a scoreless first period, the Capitals pulled ahead 1-0 when Marcus Johansson flipped a wrist shot under the crossbar and past Bryzgalov at the 8:46 mark of the second period.
The Coyotes quickly rallied.
Phoenix tied the score less than a minute later when center Martin Hanzal picked up a loose puck near the bottom of the right circle and fired it past Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth for his 12th goal of the season.
After Washington’s Scott Hannan was called for roughing at the 17:17 mark of the second period, the Coyotes took a 2-1 lead on the ensuing power play when Ray Whitney one-timed a shot past Neuvirth from between the circles.
Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes padded their lead at the 4:24 mark of the third period when Vernon Fiddler beat Neuvirth with a nifty goal for a 3-1 lead (see KEY MOMENT below).
Forty seconds after Fiddler scored, Washington’s Matt Bradley pulled the Capitals to 3-2.
Washington (29-18-10) pushed hard to tie the score in the closing minutes, but a four-minute hi-sticking penalty called on Nicklas Backstrom with just 2:26 left squashed their chances.
Regarding climbing into first place, Whitney said the Coyotes shouldn't get carried away with that feat.
“That doesn’t mean a whole lot to be honest with you," Whitney said. "Just wait a day and we’ll be back in fourth. That’s how tight this (division) is right now... If you win five in a row you just kind of hold your head above water and if you lose five in a row you’re going to be out a long way. We realize that for the rest of the way in it’s going to be pretty tight like that.”
Leading 2-1, Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler was told to leave a faceoff circle and was replaced by Lee Stempniak. Stempniak won the faceoff in the Phoenix zone. Fiddler quickly gathered the puck and skated up the ice along the right boards on a two-on-one rush with teammate Scottie Upshall. Fiddler capped the rush by one-timing a return pass from Upshall past Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth at 4:24 of the htird period.
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. Atlanta at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"Great penalty killing requires hard work ethic and sacrifice. I think we did this, blocking shots, blocking the lane and making some saves, and sometimes it was lucky. This is the key."
"It was nice to get the win. I wouldn’t say we played a great game by any means. We had one player play really great tonight and that was (Ilya) Bryzgalov. We didn’t generate much offensively and we scored when we had the opportunities.”
"I think our power play controlled the puck real well, but we just didn’t score and we had really good chances... It was a pretty tough game but I think we played well, but when you play well and lose it’s going to look like you didn’t play well."
• Feb. 14, 2011: PHX 3, WAS 2
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHX
3 - 1 PHX
3 - 2 PHX
Delaying Game - Puck over glass
Hi stick - double minor