Last night's game was one heck of an adventure. For two periods of hockey the Coyotes were simply not playing well. Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't making some routine saves and was a little scattered. The defense was likewise, just all over the place and the forwards couldn't seem to find any rhythm. Then they dug deep, likely after a chewing out by Dave Tippett, and found a way to salvage the game with some skill and a little bit of luck too.
I could tell from the drop of the puck that the Coyotes weren't quite getting it. They were constantly chasing the puck and the game and the Panthers were flying around everywhere making plays. I honestly thought that the Panthers would score a lot earlier than they did with how they seemed to be controlling the tempo of the game. It took the Panthers some time, but they finally found the net on the power play late in the first. WIth just 7 seconds remaining Steven Wiess put one in as Bryzgalov was screened by Zbynek Michalek who was trying to make the block. Weiss just threaded the needle between Z and Bryz.
The second was more of the same as the Coyotes tried to just keep playing their game, but the Panthers just wanted this game more at this point. Just more than a minute into the second Brian McCabe took a slap shot from the circle and David Booth just deflected it up over the pad of Bryzgalov. not a ton that he could do, but the puck just seemed to have eyes. Florida increased the lead by another goal when at the 7:31 mark the Coyotes just let in a bad bad goal by Cory Stillman. Bryz over committed and was caught on his belly. Michalek was out of position and it was a turnover that caused the play to happen in the first place. Just a bad play but the Panthers made them pay by just digging it out and putting it in. The period would end at 3-0 for the Panthers and things going from bad to worse for the Coyotes.
I don't know what Dave Tippett did in the dressing room at intermission, but whatever it was worked. When the Coyotes came out they looked like a completely different team. Attacking the puck. finding the open ice and actually leading passes and putting them where they needed to be. With Rostislav Olesz in the box for hooking the Coyotes would break the shutout on a Martin Hanzal Snipe from the side of the net. he just walked out from behind the net to a sharp angle and found the perfect couple of inches to get it past Tomas Vokuon who was hugging the post. Just seconds later the Coyotes scored again as the Ninja Lee Stempniak made another incredible back hand goal, just scooping it up and past Vokoun to cut the lead then to 1. All of the sudden the Coyotes were back in this game.
Though Florida was stunned they made the adjustments they needed rather quickly and locked down on defense. They started to stifle the Coyotes who while they were getting chances, weren't setting up like they had earlier in the period. The Coyotes looked like they were in it, but just couldn't make anything happen. That is until there was less than a minute remaining the Coyotes started the puck up the ice to the offensive zone. Bryzgalov started skating to the bench and Radim Vrbata dumped the puck in on goal and the bounced right past Vokoun and in. It was exciting as a COyote fan to see, but Vokoun just looked stunned and couldn't even move. Both he and the crowd were mortified at what had happened. Just a terrible goal but it tied everything up at 3 with less than a minute remaining.
The overtime period had a couple of good chances, but once again couldn't solve anything. Once again the Coyotes headed to a shootout in a game that for most of the time they didn't deserve to win. Dave Tippett Stayed with the Same shooters as he had in the last shootout at Atlanta in Wojtek Wolski, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata. Florida sent out Steven Reinprecht, Steven Weiss and Nathan Horton. Reinprecht was stuff by Brygalov and WOlski was pretty much the same on the other end. Nathan Horton got one in and he whipped it high stick side. Korpikoski went with a new move as he dangled it after Vokoun committed and just tipped it past. Steven Weiss got his chance poke checked away before he got it off. Radim Vrbata would get the winner on his patented backhand lift that hit the water bottle and completed the comeback.
With the Win the Coyotes have now won 44 game on the season a franchise record previously held by the Jets at 43. With still 11 games to play the Coyotes figure to add to that total as well. It was also the 7th consecutive win and they've won every game since the trade deadline. Just outstanding work by the guys to scramble back to get the two points.