Hockey the hard way.
The Phoenix Coyotes of old awoke from their long slumber to re-appear here in 2013. Phoenix (2-4-0) defeated the Nashville Predators 4-0 in a game that looked like it was straight out of the "hockey the hard way" game plan.
Chad "don't call me Ocho Cinco" Johnson got his first start in the net as a Coyote and boy did he make the most of it. All he did was get a shutout. With his parents watching eagerly from the stands, Johnson stood tall throughout the game and gave the Yotes the best goaltending performance of the season. Johnson said after the game that he did not feel nervous but he felt more comfortable in the second and third periods.
"There was nothing real fancy about the game. It was just a solid game," Coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes got off to a hot start by scoring the first goal of the game just three minutes in. Antoine Vermette slapped a Keith Yandle pass, which was tipped by Nick Johnson, past Pekka Rinne. The lead was a welcome sight for Coyotes fans who have not seen the team lead in games very often. Phoenix maintained momentum as they killed off an early too many men on the ice penalty to sustain their one-goal lead. For the second home game in a row, fans were treated to a scrap; this time between Kyle Chipchura and Rich Clune. The Yotes dominated the period by generating numerous scoring chances while allowing only three shots on goal. Chad Johnson had little work in his first period between the pipes with the Coyotes; he was perfect nevertheless.
Lauri Korpikoski gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead just minutes before the second intermission. A simple face-off win that lead to a point shot and a scrum in front of Rinne resulted in a goal. Johnson was challenged more in the second than he was in the first, but he survived a mid-period flurry by the Preds to keep the game scoreless.
Things got chippy around the Coyotes net early in the third period as a Predator fell (or dived) into the legs of Chad Johnson after the play was over. The resulting donnybrook culminated in a pair of minor roughing penalties for Martin Erat and Yandle. Nick Johnson gave the Coyotes their first three-goal lead of the season on a play created by Yandle. Johnson has played very well in his brief stint with the Coyotes thus far. Yandle sent everyone home happy as he scored the final goal of the game to give the Yotes a 4-0 lead.
Five for Winning
Capitalize on Opportunities: Pekka Rinne is an excellent goaltender, which means there aren't likely to be a whole lot of high quality scoring chances. The Coyotes need to make the most of their power play opportunities and any mistakes made by the Nashville defensive end. The Coyotes did get a power play goal and they did take advantage of a turnover in front of the Nashville net.
Be Prepared to Go the Distance: The Predators have gone to extra time in three of their first five games, while the Coyotes have been frustratingly unable to put a 60 minute game together this year. More than anything, the Coyotes need to come away from this game with at least a point. The Coyotes scored in every period and truly put forth a full 60 minutes of effort.
Play Smart: Although the defense is beginning to show signs of improvement, there are still too many neutral zone turnovers and ill-advised passes that have led to scoring chances and goals. The Coyotes need to make the simple plays in their own end to keep the pressure off the D and the goaltender. The Coyotes did a good job limiting the number of shots and scoring chances against Johnson. The team looked a lot like they have in previous years and less like they have so far this season.
Make Rinne's Life Difficult: As mentioned above, Rinne is pretty good at his job. The Coyotes can make his job much harder if they can consistently obstruct his vision and put a lot of pucks on net. The Coyotes had success against Rinne despite not putting tons of rubber on him. Phoenix had a modest amount of shots but made the most of them.
Stay Solid in Net: Jason LaBarbera has done an admirable job in goal with Mike Smith out. Regardless of who is in goal tonight, the Coyotes will need their net-minder to at least keep them in the game. In what was a bit of a surprise, Chad Johnson started in net for the Yotes. Johnson played as well as a goalie possibly could as he shutout the Preds in his first start with the Coyotes.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Chad Johnson: Shutout! What more could one ask of Johnson on this night?
2. Nick Johnson: Scored his first point with the team in the first, then followed that up with his first goal in the third.
3. Keith Yandle: A goal and two assists on the night and played a strong overall game.
The Coyotes hit the ice again on Wednesday night (7 p.m.) against the Edmonton Oilers at Jobing.com Arena. The Desert Dogs hope to win their second game in a row (and third of the season) and put a poor start to the season behind them. It is a night that has the potential to be very interesting for Coyotes fans as there is a chance prospective buyer Greg Jamison may announce the finalization of the sale of the team to his group.
- Mike Smith was placed on IR before the game and is eligible to return as soon as Wednesday night against the Oilers according to NHL.com. Tippett hopes that Smith will be back by this weekend.
- Tonight's game marked the first NHL home start for Chad Johnson in his career. His other four NHL starts, albeit for other teams, all occurred on the road.
- Only eight total shots were taken in the first period.
- Nick Johnson's assist in the first period was his first point with the Coyotes
- Radim Vrbata wore the second "A" tonight with Martin Hanzal scratched.
- The goal by Lauri Korpikoski was his 50th career goal.
- Each team had a too many men on the ice penalty in the game.
- Tippett expects Martin Hanzal to play on Wednesday night.