GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Martin Hanzal #11 Ray Whitney #13 Radim Vrbata #17 Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 and Adrian Aucoin #33 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate after Whitney scored a first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on January 15 2011 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes are on a roll and they don't seem to care how your team is playing in the process. Playing in front of potential new owner Matthew Hulsizer and without alternate captain Ed Jovanovski, the Coyotes cruised to a relatively easy 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Ray Whitney was the star of the game, recording his 900th career point while scoring two goals and adding a gorgeous assist on a Sami Lepisto tally to lead the team. Whitney also continued his tradition of hijinks during the pre-game interview and later had Todd Walsh and Lauri Korpikoski returning the favor in his locker room scrum.
This was one of the most solid games the Coyotes have played this season as they took the action to the Ducks early and often, chasing all star goalie Jonas Hiller after the fourth goal although there was little more that Hiller could've done in this game. The Coyotes were unable to score on their numerous power play opportunities, but they certainly pulled together after snubbed all star Keith Yandle took a dangerous high stick from Teemu Selanne midway through the first which required stitches near his left eye. Yandle would return in the second and play a key role on Taylor Pyatt's 12th goal of the season. Playing extended minutes in the absence of Jovo, Sami Lepisto and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also had strong games for the desert dogs.
The Ducks and Coyotes played the first period even as each team tallied a single goal on a shot from the high slot. The second period, however, was all Coyotes, as the team scored three unanswered goals and simply dominated the play. Ilya Bryzgalov was solid in net and the team held on through some chippy play in the third period for a strong finish.
The Coyotes are 6-0-2 since the start of 2011 and have a 7 point cushion on the team in 9th place (St. Louis).
Bullet Point Notes from the Game:
- Kyle Turris had the first good opportunity of the game and rang one off the post; several minutes later Ray Whitney did the same.
- Bryzzie made a HUGE save on a shot from Cam Fowler in the high slot.
- Whitney's goal, his 900th career point, came on a beautiful feed from Radim Vrbata into the high slot and through the five hole.
- The Ducks goal by Matt Belesky was remarkably similar to the Whitney goal as Bobby Ryan fed it into the high slot - it looked like the shot hit off of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and past Ilya Bryzgalov.
- Keith Yandle took a stick to the face from Teemu Selanne that led to a 4-minute man advantage; however, without Yandle the Coyotes struggled to establish presence in the zone. He returned at the start of the second with some stitching above his left eye.
- During the long power play, Whitney was stone cold robbed by Jonas Hiller on a one timer.
- Adrian Aucoin teed one up to start the second period and blasted it home from the point. It was "automatic"!!! The feed from Vernon Fiddler below the goal line went over the stick of Lee Stempniak and Oakie just simply ripped it home.
- Coyotes kept buzzing and Scottie Upshall had another nice opportunity that Hiller stopped and the Ducks took their timeout to try and calm the momentum.
- Weak interference call on Aucoin put the Coyotes shorthanded and the Ducks put some pressure on and the Coyotes actually almost had a few shorthanded rushes.
- Coyotes had a few 2-on-1 type opportunities, but just couldn't convert (Lauri Korpikoski and Martin Hanzal; Fiddler and Stempniak).
- Sami Lepisto rang one off the mask of Hiller from the slot on a great feed from Kyle Turris - the Turris-Korpikoski-(fill in the blank) line was buzzing through the second.
- Yandle made a huge press into the offensive zone, then brought the puck back out to the point for a big blast that was deflected by Taylor Pyatt and past Hiller for the goal.
- Coyotes just continue to pressure the Ducks, Eric Belanger fed one to a streaking Yandle that got deflected just wide.
- Great break-out pass from Martin Hanzal off the boards that launched Whitney into a 2-on-0 break with Sami Lepisto who took a beautiful feed and put it past Hiller, chasing him from the game.
- Updates from potential owner Matthew Hulsizer at the 2nd intermission: looking to close the deal in the next few weeks - 2 or 3; Hulsizer will do whatever it takes to win and has spoken with GMDM about expanding the budget (hells yes!!!); excited about how the team is doing - team in the league that nobody wants to play right now; wants to improve the marketing of the team and the in-house experience to get people out there to see the best product in the market; upset about the failure to have any Coyotes on the All Star roster. Love this guy - great news all around.
- Lots of jawing and after a big hit on Yandle, Belesky and Fiddler dropped the gloves....Fiddler may have injured his shoulder on the play, not good.
- Chippy play to start the third that appears to have been a carryover from the second. Yandle got away with a nasty two-handed slash against Corey Perry in the second and Bobby Ryan took a run at Yandle which led to an early Coyotes power play in the third.
- On a Ducks power play, Cam Fowler streaked in and had a wide open net but lifted it high into the netting. This Fowler kid is good, and that's even discounting because he's a Duck.
- Coyotes buzzing again throughout the third and the Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata line along with Lepisto kept forcing the puck to the front and finally Whitney lifted it up and over Curtis McElhinney for his second goal of the night.
- Corey Perry scores on the power play on a heck of a deflection on a shot that was going waaaay wide of Bryzgalov.
- OEL made a great play peeling off on a rush and feeding it cross ice to Lee Stempniak for the one-timer goal. Great pass, great shot.
- Coyotes remain unbeaten in regulation since the new year as the team keeps rolling.
OUR THREE STARS
1 - Ray Whitney - 2 goals, an assist, hijinks during warm-ups; guy is living up to his billing in a big way
2 - Sami Lepisto - had a goal and an assist and was buzzing all around the ice tonight; had a very Yandle-like effort
3 - Ilya Bryzgalov - the final score doesn't make it look close, but Bryz had a very solid game and had some big saves in the first that really helped the Coyotes stake their lead and run from in front in this game.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Can perform on short notice.
-TimmyHate [discussing the puppies not having pre-game warm-ups but having a lot of action]
HUGE game on Monday afternoon against a slumping San Jose team. Coyotes have an opportunity to create even more separation between themselves and the teams that are currently behind them.