The Phoenix Coyotes played excellently tonight against the Dallas Stars, winning 4-1, and they are currently on a three game winning streak. It is amazing that this is their third game in four days, and they played the last two games against 2 of the best teams in the league. Games like this really give me hope that we are going to make it into the playoffs, if they can play like this on a back to back they can play like this every game. The Yotes also ended the Stars streak of scoring a power play goal in every game since the All-Star Break.
This was a great game for all the Coyotes, Mike Smith was excellent in net only allowing one goal, Keith Yandle got a goal, Radim Vrbata got a goal and an assist, Raffi Torres got a goal, Derek Morris got a goal, Ray Whitney got two assists, Rostislav Klesla got his 100th career assist. The Yotes started strong and they stayed strong for most of the game, they controlled the neutral zone, were great on defense and on forecheck, they were great on the penalty kill with a four minute penalty kill, and they never lost the lead of the game. The only low point was the start of the second where Dallas had some momentum but the Yotes were able to regain control.
It is hard to pick which goal was the most important of the night. Yandle scoring was very important, and it helped the Yotes control the entire first period. Vrby's goal was also important, it came off a beautiful feed from Rusty Klesla, it was the perfect response to Michael Ryder's goal earlier in the second, and it helped the Desert Dogs regain the momentum that they carried into the third. Torres' goal definitely gave them the cushion that they needed to stay comfortable, and D-Mo's was the final nail in the coffin for the Stars' game.
The Yotes are now 2-0-2 against the Dallas Stars and they jumped over them to be tied with Minnesota for 8th place. This three game winning streak is the longest they have had since October/Novembers three wins over the Devils, Kings, and Avalanche. The only down side is Keith Yandle took a puck to the knee in the final period, and didn't return, fortunately Coach Tippett said that he is fine.
Key Points from the Game:
- The arena seems pretty empty, final crowd tally was over 11k, of course Defending Big D fans blamed the Coyotes, I blame the fact that people don't want to watch their team play against the team that shut them out last time they played each other. That and nobody in the desert cares about hockey :).
- Keith Yandle gets his early goal from the blue line with the Chipchura line, which has been very impressive as of late.
- Mike Smith is playing great despite the fact that he played last night. The forecheck is looking great, so far the Coyotes have tons of room in the Dallas zone, there is great neutral zone control, and the Stars aren't able to mount much of an offense for the first period.
- Before the puck is dropped for the second period Steve Ott was messing with Radim Vrbata, putting his glove in his face and messing with his helmet. I guess if there is a Coyote you would want to distract it would be Vrby, but that didn't happen.
- Michael Ryder gets a shot past Smith, it was a good shot, but it would prove to be the Stars' last. The Yotes aren't looking as strong during the first half of the second period.
- Ray Whitney tries to regain the lead with a shot and is robbed by Kari Lehtonen.
- The first penalty of the night is a hi sticking call on Mikkel Boedker for 4 minutes. The penalty kill during the first two is excellent, the last two isn't that great but it does the job and keeps Dallas from scoring. The Coyotes try to come back with a rush after the kill but Boedker misses the net and sends the puck through the crease.
- Vrbata gets a beautiful set up from Klesla giving the Yotes the lead again, which they will not lose for the rest of the game.
- The only Phoenix power play comes when former Coyote Vernon Fiddler gets a tripping call on Shane Doan. The power play is pretty good, there are a couple decent chances but they are unable to capitalize.
- Dallas starts off the third with a good opening minute with a shot on Smith. Fortunately they aren't able to carry that momentum through the rest of the period.
- Adrian Aucoin shoots a puck from the blue line hitting Lehtonen in the head. Fortunately Lehtonen is unhurt but he does decide to switch his helmet.
- Raffi Torres gets the third Coyotes goal just over 5 and a half minutes into the third giving the Yotes a comfortable cushion.
- Stars are spending more time in the Yotes zone but they aren't really making anything work for them. Yandle takes a puck and heads to the back and doesn't return for the rest of the game.
- Kyle Chipchura takes a hit from behind and then gets called for roughing after getting a little retribution. Smith has to make some saves early on but overall its a good PK.
- The last few minutes there is definitely an increase in physical play from the Stars but the Desert Dogs are keeping up the pressure. Derek Morris gets a beautiful first goal of the season when a puck slowly slides up to him. The score is 4-1 and there is less than 4 minutes left, the game is pretty much over.
Five For Winning
1. Win in regulation. The two games that Dallas has won were a result of shootouts. If they want to keep the Stars from moving ahead of them in the standings they are going to need to win it before overtime. This definitely happened, heck they practically won the game in the second period.
2. Defense. It's likely that Jason LaBarbera, who hasn't played against the Stars yet this season, will be starting tonight. Barbs doesn't have a great record this season, 3-7-1, and it would be nice for the defense to help him get a win. Well Barbs didn't play tonight but the defense was great during this game. They kept the Stars from scoring and the Blue Line got us 2 goals.
3. Special Teams. Last night's game featured excellent performance by the power play and penalty kill teams. Dallas is the fifth most penalized team, so you can expect them to draw a lot of penalties tonight, and they also have a power play goal in their past their games so the PK is going to need to be great. Surprisingly Dallas only got one penalty, from a former Coyote surprisingly enough, but the PK was amazing, especially killing off the 4 minute penalty in the second.
4. Discipline. The penalty kill is going to need to be good, but if the Desert Dogs aren't drawing penalties then they won't have to work that hard. The hi sticking call in the second probably could have been avoided, but I felt Chipchura taking a roughing call was worth it after he took a hard hit, and they were up 2 so why not. All in all I would say they were pretty disciplined.
5. Score first, and early. The Yotes played last night and traveled right after so they are going to be tired. An early lead will definitely make things easier. They scored first, and they scored last. Not much more I need to say.
Our Three Stars:
1. Mike Smith: The Stars out shot the Yotes for all but the first period, and he only let one in. In what is becoming a running theme he is keeping them in the game by giving great performances night after night (literally).
2. Radim Vrbata: He had the goal that gave the Coyotes the lead again, and had an assist on D-Mo's first of the season. Its great to see him getting goals again, he is now the top goal scorer on the road on the NHL.
3. Keith Yandle: He had the first goal of the game, and he sacrificed his body to keep the Stars from getting back on the board. Can't ask more from a player.
Comment of the Night:
Think he wanted to but couldn’t get the puck in position to shoot. We forget the it’s not a video game
and physics sometimes gets in the way.
- Jordan Ellel
Tweet of the Night:
The Coyotes are coming back home where they will be playing the Calgary Flames, another team looking to get the 8th place seat in the Western Conference. Hopefully the Yotes can keep up this level of play until they get into the top 8 and beyond, but I don't want to say anything more for fear of jinxing anything.