The Phoenix Coyotes seem to have found a new blueprint to winning. Score a quick goal to start the game, allow a pair of goals to the opposing team in the second period, tie the game and win in the shootout with an Antoine Vermette goal. It's a hard way to win, but the Coyotes pulled it off twice in four days.
Tuesday's encore extended their home point streak to eight games with a record of 7-0-1 this season.
Mike Smith was outstanding in net once again, making 31 saves and stopping five of six shootout attempts en route to a 3-2 Coyotes shootout victory.
"I saw a lot better team defense game," Smith said. "I think it was kind of a chess match and chances weren't at the highest, but that's a good thing."
The victory was Phoenix's fifth in a row and the third consecutive shootout win.
"Our team is working alright," Coach Dave Tippett said. "There are still things that we can do better. We feel like we are competitive in every game, and that's where you want to be."
After a shaky first shootout against Ottawa, Smith has stopped nine of 11 shootout attempts in his last two games. Smith credits the improvement to the team emphasizing shootouts more in practice, typically at the end.
Phoenix played a strong defensive game for the second game in a row led by the return of Rostislav Klesla and nearly thirty minutes of ice time from Zbynek Michalek, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle.
"It was a tight game. The kind of game we kind of expected. It was a tight, hard-fought battle..." Coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes are winning games in a variety of different ways. Up a goal, down a goal, down three goals, the Coyotes have managed to find a way to win. The team never feels like they are out of any game and these types of wins only reinforce that confidence.
"Without a doubt it helps. It comes back to our blue line. Our blue line is so good...they are special. That's depth and that's what helps us," Shane Doan said.
Tuesday's victory places the Coyotes second in the Pacific Division and tied for third in the Western Conference with 24 points.
The Coyotes got off to a fast start, scoring a goal on their first shot 1:15 into the game. Radim Vrbata deflected a Martin Hanzal aerial pass into the net for his sixth goal of the season. Phoenix had a pair of solid power plays but could not get one past Roberto Luongo.
As quick as the Coyotes started out in the first period, the Canucks did one better to begin the second. Vancouver tied the game 25 seconds into the middle period after a Dan Hamhuis point shot made it past a screened Smith. Smith threw his hands up in disgust after the puck went in; he never saw the puck. The Canucks took the lead with another point shot goal, this time by Ryan Kesler on the power play to give Vancouver its first lead of the game.
Phoenix tied the game in the waning minutes of the second period after Doan ripped a one-timer past Luongo. Yandle passed up a shot in the slot and fed Doan a pass at the top of the face-off circle.
"It's a great play by Keith Yandle," Doan said. "Not too many D in our league would make that play."
The 2-2 game continued into overtime as neither team was able to break through in the third period. For the third consecutive game, the Coyotes' fate would be decided in the shootout. For the third consecutive game, the Coyotes would win the shootout and earn the all important second point.
Vermette scored the game-winning shootout goal in the sixth round as he is becoming the Adrian Aucoin of 2013 in shootouts. Vrbata and Vermette scored for the Coyotes while Alexandre Burrows scored the lone shootout goal for the Canucks.
- All six of Vrbata's goals have come at home
- Zbynek Michalek played his 600th career NHL game tonight.
- Phoenix is 6-0-0 when leading after one period
- Derek Morris left the game with a lower-body injury.
- Attendance: 13,459
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Mike Smith: 31 saves on 33 shots plus stopping five of six in the SO.
2. Radim Vrbata: A goal in the game and shootout.
3. Antoine Vermette: Scored game-winning SO goal and won 52 percent of his face-offs.
The Coyotes play tomorrow night against the first place Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be televised on 3TV. Smith will once again be in net for the Coyotes.