Big Hit Wakes Up Coyotes As They Beat Maple Leafs 5 - 1

GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 13: Goaltender James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs allows a first period power play goal to Radim Vrbata #17 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on January 13 2011 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs both entered the game on a bit of a roll and by the end of the second the game had a Thunderdome feel - Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves! Well, thankfully for the Coyotes, at the end of the night, they were the team standing as they cruised to a 5-1 victory.

All of the animosity started with just over a minute to go in the second period when noted Toronto thug Mike Brown laid a vicious elbow to the head of Ed Jovanovski that would send him to the locker room for the remainder of the game. Despite the brutal hit, the refs didn't get a clean look and no call was made. During an ensuing scrum in front of the net, Clarke MacArthur took some swings at Lauri Korpikoski on the ice while Korpi swung his legs at MacArthur while trying to get away. The end result was a four minute man advantage for the Desert Dogs.

Despite all this bad blood, the teams came out a bit calmer in the third as the Coyotes started to pour on the offense with Shane Doan converting on the power play early in the third to open the two goal lead. A few minutes later a great move from Keith Yandle set up a wide open Taylor Pyatt for a top shelf rip. Korpikoski and Yandle added additional third period goals (Yandle's into the empty net) to round out a four goal third period. The Coyotes have 18 goals in the third period in their past 11 games, best in the NHL.

Unlike my report after the Columbus game, the Coyotes entered this game without a power play goal in their past 20+ opportunities, but they would end that streak early tonight. Radim Vrbata converted a sweet cross-ice feed from Ray Whitney that left Toronto goalie James Reimer no chance for the early 1-0 lead on a 4-on-3 power play. Again, the Coyotes power play continues to improve once they got set up in the zone, and tonight they were able to convert on 2 of 5 opportunities.

Bullet Point Notes From The Game:

  • Refs started the game calling tight penalties on Keith Yandle, Nikolai Kulemin, Dion Phaneuf and Ray Whitney all in the first three minutes of the game.
  • On a 4-on-3 power play, the Coyotes finally broke their slump as Radim Vrbata got one in on a gorgeous feed from Ray Whitney!
  • Ilya Bryzgalov looked much better at the start of this game than he has at the start of recent games...facing all those shots in Columbus looks like it really helped him shake off the rust.
  • Toronto controlled play through the first period outshooting the Coyotes 12-4 despite the lone goal from Vrbata.
  • Coyotes showed a lot more energy in the second period and were pushing the play into the Leafs end.
  • Scottie Upshall and Shane Doan had a nice 2-on-1 opportunity but James Reimer stood up large and made the stop on the Doan one timer.
  • Reimer robbed Whitney late in the second when he was right in front and tried to go five hole.
  • Late in the second period, Mike Brown made a high and potentially blindside hit on Ed Jovanovski that sent him to the dressing room...not sure what the refs were watching as no penalty was called. This led to much more insanity in the final minute as Yandle threw a big check and Derek Morris got called for a weak penalty.
  • During the ensuing power play, Sami Lepisto drew an equally weak hooking call and Clarke MacArthur went ballistic, taking punches at Lauri Korpikoski who apparently attempted a kick and slewfoot at MacArthur. In the end, the Coyotes ended up getting the man advantage from the exchange.
  • On the ensuing power play, Shane Doan scored on the first of the two penalties, allowing the Coyotes to continue on the man advantage. No power play goals for seven games, two tonight already...
  • Former Maple Leaf Lee Stempniak had a glorious opportunity at the end of the second MacArthur penalty, but Reimer made the big save.
  • A beautiful move by Keith Yandle led to a feed to Taylor Pyatt alone between the hashes and a 3-0 Coyotes lead.
  • Chippy play continued as Eric Belanger got into it a bit with Francois Beauchemin and Belanger ended up with the extra minor.
  • Korpikoski added a tally charging to the net and getting a great feed from Mikkel Boedker to make it 4-0. Boedker gave up the puck in his own end earlier in the shift and made up for it with a good rush up the ice.
  • On the Leafs goal, Colby Armstrong got away with a high stick on Oliver Ekman-Larsson earlier in the play and then he later scored the goal on a rebound. Tough break for Bryz to lose his shutout bid on that play.
  • Yandle polished off the win with an empty net goal. Just another big game for the young defenseman.
  • James Reimer didn't get much help from his team, but did show a bit of weakness on the shots high glove side as the Coyotes burned him there a few times. He's probably heading back to the Marlies tomorrow with Giguerre returning, but this will not be the last we hear of this young netminder.

OUR THREE STARS

1 - Keith Yandle - added the empty netter to go with a pair of assists including one heck of a move on the Pyatt goal

2 - Ilya Bryzgalov - unfortunately he lost the shutout, but another solid game by Bryz and one where he wasn't rusty at the start. It looks like he has found his form and the team is finding an offensive stride - looks like the team from last year again.

3 - Lauri Korpikoski - pretty goal, involved in the weird scrap with MacArthur; just all over the ice again for the Coyotes.

 

COMMENT OF THE NIGHT

Shh, I’m bluffing to get more ham.

 

     -nhlcheapshot [on the proposal of a Brett Lebda for ham sandwich trade]

 

Coyotes get a day off before it will be three games in four days against Western Conference foes - Anaheim on Saturday night and then a back-to-back bash with San Jose and Nashville, who thankfully lost a game for once against Florida.

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