The Phoenix Coyotes were hoping to start a win streak. They were hoping to turn around their performance on the road. They were hoping to end a game in regulation. In the end, Phoenix was successful in accomplishing the first goal, earned partial credit for the second but failed in completing the third. Which was similar to how the actual game played on Tuesday night turned out.
For the first time this season, Phoenix would be playing in front of a national audience with a chance to prove their quality. It started pretty well. The Coyotes came out and controlled the opening five minutes of play, but then the Blues fourth line went to work. After the Coyotes tried and failed on several clearing attempts, Jay Bouwmeester put a puck on net toward Mike Smith. The shot would change direction, off the stick of Max Lapierre, past a screened Smith to give the Blues the early lead.
The Coyotes answered back within the minute. Oliver Ekman-Larsson chased down a loose puck out high and got the puck below the goal line to Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro would find an open David Moss in the right circle who would wrist his first goal of the season past Jaroslav Halak to even the score at one apiece. It looked like the period would end that way until a clearing attempt squeaked past Kevin Shattenkirk to a streaking Rob Klinkhammer. The Colonel would lead a 3-on-1 break down the ice and found Mikkel Boedker for a juicy one-timer that was blistered past Halak with 31 seconds left in the period.
Phoenix would enter the second period with the daring strategy to sit on the lead. It worked for the majority of the second, as the Yotes successfully turned the game into a neutral zone contest and they were winning. However, after a lackluster power play came to an end with 5:46 remaining in the period, the gameplan for the Coyotes would fall apart. St. Louis began to apply plenty of pressure and ended the period outshooting the Coyotes seven to two over those final five minutes.
The third period would continue on in much of the same vein, as the Blues would dominate the play and turn the game in their favor. After chance after chance, the Blues finally broke through to even the game thanks to luck and poor positioning by Phoenix. Alexander Steen controlled the puck along the left boards as David Schlemko defended him valiantly without his stick. As this was happening, Kyle Chipchura was caught puck watching and creeping into the near side of the ice. Steen took advantage and made a perfect pass to Roman Polak, through Schlemko's legs, who crashed down from the point and put the puck past a sprawling Smith. The Blues would have multiple chances to take the lead, but couldn't make it happen. Derek Roy had a wide open spin-o-rama chance gloved by Smith, Vladimir Tarasenko would be stoned by Smith's pad and the rebound would go wide off the stick of Brenden Morrow and Patrik Berglund would fan on a set-up pass from T.J. Oshie that left the net wide open.
The Coyotes certainly were lucky to survive the opening 60 minutes with a point, and their late game heroics would return thanks to the awesomeness of their young Swedish defenseman. Ekman-Larsson would rifle a shot from the point with a stick blade stuck in his skate that found it's way past Halak 56 seconds into overtime to give the Coyotes a hard fought, but possibly undeserved victory. More importantly given the situation in the Pacific Division, OEL's goal got the Coyotes an important ROW (regulation or overtime win) that could come in handy for tie-breaking purposes later in the season.
- The Coyotes were badly outshot in yet another road game. The Blues had 39 shots to the Yotes 19 and it was even worse in the pivotal third period, as the Blues had 13 to Phoenix's three.
- Mike Ribeiro had his first multi-assist game as a Coyote, getting the primary marker on the first and last goal for Phoenix. He also won six of eight face-offs.
- Speaking of face-offs, the Coyotes had another strong night in the dots, winning 30 of 55 draws. Antoine Vermette was key again, winning 16 of 25 including a dominant 10 of 11 in the second period.
- Alex Pietrangelo led all players in ice time with 28:36. He also had an assist. Alex Steen extended his point streak to 11 games with his assist.
- After taking 12 minors in the last two games, the Coyotes discipline was much improved as they took only one penalty tonight, a Kyle Chipchura tripping call in the first. In fact, each team was called for only one penalty in the game.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Mike Smith. Smith was superb between the pipes tonight, stopping 37 of 39 shots, many of which were quality chances. His play outside of the crease wasn't as good though, as he had a couple of puck misplays and passes that stopped hearts.
2. Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester was arguably the best player on the ice tonight, making key plays in the offensive zone and breaking up a potential 2-on-1 chance for the Coyotes in the second period. He had an assist and played 26:32.
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He had a few tough turnovers and overall didn't play a great game, but he made a key play to set up the opening goal and netted the game winner. He also led the Coyotes in ice time, as if that was a question.
The Coyotes will finish their short, two game road swing with a trip to the Windy City to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm Arizona time and will be televised on FS-AZ.