Well, Coach Tippett may not have liked how the game started with Chicago getting an early lead and controlling much of the play in the first period, but I'm sure he appreciated the way the Phoenix Coyotes came back in the second and then played disciplined hockey the rest of the way to hold on for a 2-1 victory in their first meeting of the season with the Blackhawks.
Jason LaBarbera improved to 4-0-0 in Chicago and earned his first victory of the season which is important for giving him confidence, and giving the coaches confidence in getting him in there and spelling starter Ilya Bryzgalov occasionally. In truth, after the first unfortunate goal (a deflection of a seemingly harmless Bryan Bickell shot that caught Derek Morris stick and went right through Labby's five hole), he was solid the rest of the way and made some big saves in the second and third.
After getting held to only 4 shots in the first period, the Coyotes came out with much more jump in the second and were rewarded for their hard work with two goals in rapid succession. First Wojtek Wolski made the Chicago defense look silly as he dangled into the slot and fed Kyle Turris in front of the net for an easy tap-in goal, his 4th of the season. Only 35 seconds later, Eric Belanger took an errant pass up the right side and using Wolski as a decoy ripped a blast over Marty Turco's shoulder to give the Coyotes the 2-1 lead, that would hold up.
The Coyotes fought hard in the third, deploying that defensive prowess that made them one of last year's top teams and holding on for the 2-1 victory. It was also a very disciplined game by both squads as only one minor penalty was called the entire game (although there probably should have been two against Chicago that were mysteriously not called). All-in-all a very solid road effort and a trip that saw the Coyotes get 3 of a possible 4 points through Detroit and Chicago. In the last three games against the last three Stanley Cup champions, the Coyotes have managed to get 4 of 6 points. The overtime losses aren't pretty, but they sure beat losing in regulation.
Some notes in bullet point form...
- Jason LaBarbera made a few HUGE saves - early in the second period off of Marian Hossa from a behind the net feed of Patrick Kane and a robbery in the third against Jack Skille right in front of the net.
- Sami Lepisto got into a little scrap with Skile in the first period which helped get the Coyotes going a bit after some extended Hawks pressure.
- The Coyotes two goals were scored 35 seconds apart. According to the broadcast it was the seventh time already this season that the Blackhawks have allowed 2 goals within a minute - that seems remarkably high.
- Future Coyotes owner (potentially) Matthew Hulsizer was in attendance at the game and gave an update on how things are going with the City of Glendale - gist of the message was that it was going well and we may have an announcement coming imminently. He said all the right things including repeated usage of the terms "we" and "our" when referring to the team, its management and coaches. We'll try and find video of this and get it up...
- Coyotes continued to gain steam throughout the second period and had better shifts as the period went along with the Czech unit reunited and Whitney joining up with Upshall and Turris.
- Ed Jovanovski got a bit hurt when he blocked back to back shots at one point, but he didn't miss a shift.
- The first minor penalty wasn't called until the third period - it was against the Coyotes, of course. Later in the third, Radim Vrbata got hauled down and no call was made. Even Dave Strader, usually pretty even-handed was up in arms (I can't imagine how Panger would've handled it). Also in the second period, a collision with Jason LaBarbera could have been called goalie interference, but the refs didn't see it that way.
OUR THREE STARS:
1 - Jason LaBarbera - gave up a soft goal early on a redirection off of Derek Morris' stick and then shut things down the rest of the way...we should see him again this weekend as part of the back-to-back.
2 - Eric Belanger - created his own play off a turnover and absolutely ripped one high and hard over Marty Turco's glove...it was a thing of beauty.
3 - Wojtek Wolski - his beautiful play gave Kyle Turris a tap-in goal that tied the game. I'd actually place him above Belanger, but it was his losing of Bickell that led to the first goal...so that's a knock.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT:
Hossa can go suck a big one, as far as I’m concerned.
Yeah, been wanting to say that all night. Feels much better now.
-MyDearestObsession [known Penguins lover gives Hossa what he deserves...]
OFFICIAL GAME HIGHLIGHTS FROM NHL.com:
Coyotes return home to face the Calgary Flames on Friday and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Big Western Conference games as the Coyotes continue to try and climb back into an early playoff position. Hope to see you at Jobing.com Arena. Carl is on vacation this weekend (or at least the next few days), so Travis and I will try and pick up the slack.