Phoenix Coyotes fans cheered once again when Scottie Upshall's name was announced in the starting lineup. However, this night was different. Upshall was not wearing Coyotes colors. Two teams that were trade partners less than a month ago met for the first time since exchanging players last night in Glendale. In an interesting twist, one of the players involved in the deal played a major role in outcome of the game. Probably not the guy most people would have expected to either. Sami Lepisto was in the box for one goal and on the ice for another in the Coyotes 3-0 win over the Blue Jackets.
The game, as the last two Coyotes games have, started slowly. During the Coyotes first sustained offensive push Eric Belanger was forced to leave the game after being hit by the puck left the game less than two minutes. Thankfully for Coach Dave Tippett, who was already short on NHL level centers, Belanger came back later in the period. After his return to the ice, the veteran center drew a penalty on former Coyote Sami Lepisto. The Coyotes weren't able to take advantage of the penalty. As was the case for most of the stanza, the Desert Dogs struggled to sustain any prolonged pressure after the power play expired. The period ended with the score tied 0-0. This means the Yotes failed to score a goal in the opening frame for the 4th game in a row.
The 2nd period began with a quick succession of penalties. First, Rick Nash crashed into Ilya Bryzgalov giving the Yotes their 2nd power play of the game. 58 seconds into said power play Ray Whitney took a similar goaltender interference penalty negating the second half of the man advantage. Moments later on a Coyotes breakout Sami Lepisto took his second penalty of the game. The result was another Coyotes power play. This time the Desert Dogs converted with Michel Rozsival scoring off a nice pass from Vernon Fiddler.
The special teams play at the beginning fo the period seemed to awaken both squads and the pace of play picked up. Shane Doan drew a penalty on the Blue Jackets Jakub Voracek. The Yotes appeared to take 2-0 on the ensuing penalty, but the goal was waved off due to Taylor Pyatt being in the crease. Columbus received a power play courtesy of a questionable tripping call on Rozsival. The Coyotes defenseman looked to be trying to throw a hip check and just got tangled up with Derek Dorsett. The Dogs killed the penalty and Derek Morris scored a goal, with just over a minute to go in the period, with some nifty stick handling to put in a Mathieu Garon rebound.
The third period was a fairly dull affair until a scrum occurred at the 8:09 mark in front of Bryz's crease. The extra curriculars were a result of an apparent high stick by Eric Belanger. The Coyotes killed the penalty. With less than five minutes to go in the game Mikkel Boedker scored the Desert Dogs 3rd goal of game off a Keith Yandle shot.
The Coyotes came away with a quality win against a tough physical opponent. A huge night for the Coyotes defensemen as well. They held the Blue Jackets offense in check and scored all three of the Coyotes goals. This in a game they could have overlooked with the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks coming to the Job on Saturday night. The Sharks meanwhile lost in a shootout this evening to the Kings. The Coyotes now sit 2 points back of the Sharks going into Saturday's showdown.
- All three NHL players involved in the trade deadline deal (Klesla, Upshall, Lepisto) started the game on the ice.
- Paul Bissonnette got his second start in a row. A shrewd move to start BizNasty in games where eneregy might be needed.
- Kyle Turris being scratched while Martin Hanzal is still out hurt says all you need to know about his recent play. Starting Andrew Ebbett & Lauri Korpikoski at center is less than ideal to say the least.
- Korpikoski was injured during the second period of the game and did not return to play in the 3rd period. He's listed as day to day with an upper body injury by the team.
- Ebbett was 1 for 10 (10%) on faceoffs for the night. Oof!
- In the last three games opposing teams have really clogged the neutral zone and cut off passing lanes against the Yotes. Expect to see more of this the rest of regular season. Playoff hockey is already here.
- 28 saves for and a shutout for Bryz. With the shutout he also tied the Bulin Wall for the franchise record for shutouts at 21. As Coach Tippett commented after the game "He is a top notch goalie".
- When Sami Lepisto, a depth defenseman, is 2nd on your team in TOI, you are in trouble.
Coach Dave Tippett's Post Game Press Conference:
Michal Rozsival Postgame comments: