Playing a Western Conference foe in a battle for what will surely be important points at the end of the year, the Coyotes showed some serious moxie, making a third period comeback in St. Louis to beat the Blues 4-3 on the first night of a back-to-back road trip through middle America. The Blues blew a first period 1-0 lead and a 3-2 lead in the third after scoring two goals in twenty seconds early in the third to respond to Phoenix's two-goal second period. For the Coyotes, they opened up the second half of their season with a big victory and showed some of the spark that made last year's squad so successful.
With Wojtek Wolski being traded, there are going to be opportunities for certain forwards to earn more playing time and Kyle Turris made a serious play for that extra time tonight. Turris, paired for most of the night with Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Pyatt was an offensive force, taking five shots in the game and scoring a HUGE third period goal to tie the game at three. Taylor Pyatt would score the game winner with just over three minutes remaining on a wrap-around. Jason LaBarbera was solid, if unspectacular throughout the game and survived the Blues' final push to hold the 4-3 lead.
Most importantly, in terms of the standings, the Coyotes get a win in regulation against a Blues team that was just a point behind them in the standings (with a game in hand). This game also had more than its fair share of physicality with big hits being thrown by both teams, a very solid Paul Bissonette-Cam Janssen fight, and just two hard working fairly evenly matched teams battling it out. I would LOVE to see these teams go at it during a seven game series in April (or better yet) May.
Bullet notes from the game:
- Lee Stempniak missed an opportunity from right in front of the net off of a terrible Blues turnover midway through the first.
- Much maligned Derek Morris made a very nice play defending a 2-on-1 rush from the Blues after Eric Belanger and Scottie Upshall crashed into each other in the offensive zone...later he had back to back drives at the net that caused some trouble for Jaroslav Halak.
- Coyotes had a HUGE 44 second 5-on-3 penalty kill in the first when Sami Lepisto and Ed Jovanovski were both in the sin bin for 44 seconds. They couldn't seem to get the puck out, but they held on to keep the game scoreless.
- On the first St. Louis goal, David Backes walked right into the slot without any forward coming back to check him, Jovo in the corner and Aucoin covering the back door streaker. Bad defensive lapse, particularly by Ray Whitney coasting back into the play left little chance for LaBarbera.
- At the end of the first power play for the Coyotes, Kyle Turris-Lauri Korpikoski-Taylor Pyatt had a tremendous shift and a few good scoring opportunities...this is becoming the norm when Turris is on the ice.
- The first coyotes goal from Korpikoski was scored when that Turris-Korpy-Pyatt line was out there with a deflection on a Jovo shot - big goal at a big time to get the team back in the game.
- Coyotes kept the pressure high throughout the second period and controlled the play, generally.
- Lee Stempniak's goal was a beauty as he picked off a pass and went the length of the ice on a breakaway and beat Halak on Vrbata's favorite shootout move.
- On the Blues' disallowed goal by B.J. Crombeen, the puck didn't cross the line from any angle available, but the real question is why there was no goalie interference call as LaBarbera was clearly run into and the Blues player wasn't pushed in at all.
- The physicality really ramped up in the last five minutes of the second period with some big hitting from Backes, Doan, Jovo and Aucoin. At the end of the period, Yandle and one of the Blues players got coincidental minors for roughing.
- Coyotes had great pressure in their power play to start the third including a huge save by Halak on a Doan blast.
- Matt D'Agostini's goal came when the puck deflected off of Aucoin and bounced right back to D'Agostini who drove the net and buried it high over LaBarbera.
- The Blues scored their third goal a mere 20 seconds later as Brad Winchester got in front of the net and put in a rebound effort...the Coyotes could've folded it at this point, but showed the type of determination they need to be successful in keeping in it and eventually winning the game. It was a good timeout call by Dave Tippett here.
- Kyle Turris' goal was a flat out rip using the defenseman as a screen to put it home off the post past Halak. It was just a beautiful goal.
- Pyatt's goal on the wrap around should never have gone in...bad play by Halak leaving the wickets open and the Blues defense just backed right up and let him take that shot...the play also looked very close to being offsides, but Turris did a great job with the toe drag.
- Keith Yandle had a rough shift with the Blues having the empty net, made a bad turnover, recovered, got the puck out of the zone and then iced it on a shot at the empty net.
- I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jason LaBarbera is taking years off my life when he leaves the crease to play the puck. He's gotta stop doing that....
OUR THREE STARS
1 - Kyle Turris - buzzing everywhere throughout the game and scored a big goal to tie the game at three in the third and assisted on the game winner from Pyatt.
2 - Taylor Pyatt - on the line with Turris, played one of his strongest games.
3 - David Backes - brought the physical play, scored a goal, drove the net on another goal, was a general PITA all over the ice.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Coyotes have points in five consecutive games and are starting to play some solid hockey. They don't have any time to rest on their laurels for this one as they play again tomorrow at 5:00 MST in Columbus. Coyotes had a big win against the Blue Jackets last week on the Jobing.com ice and will need another big win tomorrow.