The Coyotes had to go and make things interesting for the crowd at Jobing.com Arena tonight. However, in the end one period of solid play at both ends, a second period of good defense and a third where we tried to give the game away turned into a win.
The First was All Coyotes pretty much from the puck drop. Shane Doan powered through two Ranger defenders when he grabbed the lead pass out of the zone from Taylor Pyatt. He split the D and took a shot that even the Coyotes announce team thought Johnson had the save on, but it just squirted through the five hole putting the near-capacity crowd on their feet just six minutes into the game. It wouldn't take long for the Coyotes to strike again. Less than a minute later they turned a 3-on1 into aa goal as Practically the entire Lang-Boedker-Pyatt Line got behind the defense in a flash, I'm not sure how it happened, but the Rangers were just caught completely flat footed. Lang made an impressive pass to Mikkel Boedker who sped across the slot and put it past Johnson. Sami Lepisto got in on the scoring later in the period as he finally got one of his blasts to find the back of the net. It's Lepisto's first NHL goal and he's been trying really hard and had good chances. You could see how excited he was to have finally gotten one adding to the Coyotes impressive blueline offensive numbers.
The Second looked like a completely different game. The Coyotes were still playing defense, but the offense was completely gone. That despite having 8 minutes worth of power plays to try and score on. That's becoming a pretty big issue as if we want to be a serious contender in the post-season we're going to have to take advantage of our power play chances. Especially when we're just being handed them left and right. The Rangers though didn't fair much better as while they were able to generate some shots, Jason LaBarbera was able to make some clutch saves.
The wheels looked like they might have been coming off in the Third. Everything that the Coyotes had been doing right in the First was the exact opposite. They couldn't keep the puck in the zone, the passing got lazy, and guys were getting caught on their heels. Twice the Rangers were able to score thanks mostly to our own guys making simple errors that allowed odd-man chances. Marian Gaborik got on the board when the defensive unit tried to get off the ice on a dump in. The mistake though was that rather than being dumped in the Rangers blocked it and Ed Jovanovski tried to catch back up but Gaborik and Christianson got behind him and made a nice play to fake LaBarbera out. Avery later scored on a Jim Vandermeer turnover as he basically fell down on his own and the Rangers were off to the races again. The Rangers though hurt their own cause when Michael Rozival took a penalty late with a high stick on Petr Prucha. Gaborik would nail a post with the seconds winding down, but to no avail.
Chad Johnson was a little bit of a surprise as up until an hour or so before the game it looked like Henrik Lundqvist would be in goal. I'm not sure what would have really been different as his numbers haven't been great over the last stretch either, but with them having a back to back combined with the Ranger losing streak it was a convenient time to have him come down with the flu.
Let me also say that the pregame ceremony was nice and Teppo Numminen seemed like he was appreciative and he let a couple of tears go too. The fans should have been in their seats a lot earlier on a special night like this though. It was upsetting that the place was still filling up as the ceremony was going on. I don't know, it just seemed like the fans should have been aware of how important the guy was to this team and gotten there on time at least.
I was talking to a fellow fan after the game about Mikkel Boedker's ice time, or lack there of tonight, (He ended up with 7:44 despite scoring and being the fastest player out there) so I wanted to pass along this quote from Dave Tippett from the post game press conference.
"Pretty good first shift, right? You know, that's what he does, he's a fast player. Lots of penalties in the game, lots of power plays, and he probably didn't get as much ice time as we anticipated."