By Associated Press VANCOUVER -- The Coyotes left home nearly a week ago in a tenuous playoff position. They're coming home in great shape for a second straight postseason trip.
Phoenix completed an undefeated four-game trip on Friday night by beating the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks, 3-1, before a sellout crowd of 18,860 fans at Rogers Arena. Not only did they become the first team to win twice in Vancouver this season, they also finished the season with a 6-0-0 mark in western Canada, the first time that's been done since St. Louis did it in 1999-2000.
The Coyotes (39-23-11) will start a six-game homestand on Sunday in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 89 points.
Goalie Jason LaBarbera, who hadn't played since allowing eight goals vs. Tampa Bay on Feb. 23, stopped a season-high 46 shots for his first win since Jan. 10.
"Pucks were hitting me, and our guys were doing a good job of clearing rebounds," LaBarbera said. "I was seeing the puck, and it was one of those nights where I was totally focused."
All of the scoring took place in the third period.
Photo by Getty Images.
LaBarbera did some of his best work midway through the final period, helping the Coyotes kill off a 70-second five-on-three disadvantage against the NHL's top-ranged power-play unit.
Not long afterward, the Coyotes were awarded a five-minute power play when Vancouver forward Alex Burrows was given a major penalty and game misconduct for pushing Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler face-first into the end boards.
Phoenix pounced on the opportunity.
Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata broke a scoreless tie with 6:29 left in regulation by snagging the loose puck in the slot and firing a backhanded shot past Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. Just 1:18 later, Shane Doan beat Luongo on the same power play with a shot from the right point through a screen set by Vrbata for a 2-0 lead. Vrbata and Doan lead the Coyotes with 18 goals.
Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff spoiled LaBarbera's shutout bid by banging in a rebound with 2:58 remaining, but Lee Stempniak scored into an empty net with 1:05 left to give the Coyotes their fifth consecutive win and snap the Canucks' seven-game winning streak. For Stempniak, the goal was his third in three games after a 21-game goal-scoring drought.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com compiled this recap.
Tied 0-0, the Coyotes were awarded a five-minute power play when Vancouver forward Alex Burrows was
given a major penalty and game misconduct for pushing Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler face-first into the end boards at 11:09 of the third period. Phoenix scored two goals on the ensuing power play to secure the win.
Burrows said he was surprised he received more than a two-minute minor penalty for his hit and was disappointed he put his team in that position at that point in such a tight game.
"I have a lot of respect for (referee) Kelly Sutherland," Burrows said. "I think he's one of the best refs in the league and it's a tough call. I know there's a lot going on with headshots right now throughout the NHL and Vern Fiddler kind of looked dazed a little bit... Obviously I was surprised when it was a major."
• Captain Shane Doan notched a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to seven games. Doan has produced four goals and six assists in the streak.
• The Coyotes' next game is Sunday vs. Chicago at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on KFYI 550 (AM).
"The last game I played wasn't a whole lot of fun for anybody, especially myself. I had a lot of time to sit on it. I really wanted to come out and give the guys a chance to win tonight. I hadn't had a whole lot of chances to contribute to this team."
"It was a great trip. I give our guys a ton of credit. They battled hard every game... Tough travel last night, coming in here to play a real good team - I thought our guys gutted it out and LaBarbera gave us an excellent game."
"(LaBarbera) was really good. We've been up against him a couple times and he's been solid against us. He's a good goaltender, but again, we didn't have enough traffic... Even though we almost had 50 shots, I don't think we had too many great chances."
• Nov. 21, 2010: PHX 3, VAN 2 • March 18, 2011: PHX 3, VAN 1
• Feb. 2, 2011: VAN 6, PHX 0 • March 8, 2011: VAN 4, PHX 3 (OT)
1 - 0 PHX
2 - 0 PHX
2 - 1 PHX
3 - 1 PHX
Delaying Game - Puck over glass