The Phoenix Coyotes got back to their winning ways with a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
On a day when a local radio station published an article with the title of "Is it time to trade Keith Yandle?" Keith Yandle stole the show. Led by Yandle's three primary assists and Martin Hanzal's pair of goals, the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3.
Both teams could not keep up the goal pace they set in the first, but, the second period would not be scoreless either. Columbus opened the second period scoring and tied the game at three after a Derek MacKenzie goal five minutes into the period. Former Coyote Adrian Aucoin assisted on the MacKenzie goal. The Desert Dogs had a few opportunities to regain the lead on the power play, including a 29 second 5-on-3 and a post, but could not convert. Through two periods, the Yotes were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Vrbata did not come out of the locker room for the third period and would not return to the game due to a lower-body injury. Tippett did not have an update on Vrbata's status after the game.
The Coyotes finally broke through on the power play in the third period. A fabulous keep at the offensive blue line by Oliver Ekman-Larsson would eventually result in a Martin Hanzal power play goal. Yandle would earn his second primary assist of the night on the Hanzal tally. Shortly after the goal, MacKenzie and Chris Summers exchanged pleasantries before eventually dropping the mitts. Summers more than held his own against a much more veteran fighter in MacKenzie. Hanzal scored his second goal of the night into the empty net to give the Coyotes their seventh win of the season.
- The Rundblad/Summers pairing was on the ice for both of Columbus' goals in the first period.
- Steve Sullivan continued his dominance against Columbus with two assists in the first period. He now has 50 points in 49 games against the Jackets.
- The three first period goals was the first time this season that the Coyotes scored 2+ goals in the opening period.
- The Coyotes were inadvertently tripped by an official twice during the game (Yandle and Torres).
- Attendance: 15,425
- Phoenix improved to 67-5-7 all-time under Coach Dave Tippett when leading after period one, and a perfect 4-0-0 when doing so this season.
- Note: this has nothing to do with this game but, Frazer McLaren scored a goal (a GWG to boot!) tonight. McLaren, who had not scored an NHL goal since 2009, has more goals this season than six of the Coyotes who dressed tonight (not including goalies). Just let that soak in for a moment.
Five For Winning
1. Shoot. Up until recently, the Coyotes had done a pretty good job getting pucks on net. On Thursday they only managed 19 shots, due in part to some excellent shot-blocking by Nashville, but also due to some hesitation and over-selectiveness. The Coyotes need to change that. The Yotes outshot the Jackets 35-20 in the game. The 35 shots were nearly double the amount they took against Nashville on Thursday.
2. Pounce on Them Early. The Blue Jackets played last night in Los Angeles, which means they will have arrived in Phoenix very early this morning. The Coyotes need to take advantage of those tired legs by bringing the offensive pressure from the very beginning of the game. The Coyotes brought the pressure early, scoring three first period goals. They allowed two of their own but had a lead after 20 minutes of play.
3. Find the Power Play Mojo. The Coyotes' power play has returned to its old form, and that's not a good thing. While their movement remains good, their zone entries have become problematic again and they are passing up good shots to try and find perfect ones. Keep the puck in the zone and put pressure on the Jackets' goaltender. While the power play was ugly most of the night, the only power play goal turned out to be the game winner. Phoenix ended the game 1/7 on the PP.
4. Play a Clean Game. There are a lot of little things the Coyotes need to do well. Minimize the turnovers, avoid taking dumb penalties, and clog the neutral zone to give the team a chance to win. The Desert Dogs did a fairly good job of limiting turnovers and penalties, mental errors led to the first two Columbus goals of the game.
5. Don't Give This Away. This game is extremely winnable for the Coyotes. They're playing a struggling team on the second half of a road back-to-back. They need to take care of business. Despite blowing leads of 2-1 and 3-2, the Coyotes won the game in regulation to grab two more precious points as well as add a tally to the "ROW" category which could be a key tie-breaker come April.
Our Three Stars Of The Game
1. Keith Yandle: Three primary assists, broke up a 2-on-1 and was solid in all facets of the game.
2. Martin Hanzal: Two goals, three points and seven hits for the 6'6" Centerman.
3. Steve Sullivan: Two assists and added to his career-long successes against the Blue Jackets.
Maybe, Columbus was distracted by this:
The Coyotes hit the ice again on Monday night against the Calgary Flames in Glendale. It will be the first of three meetings this season between the two teams. Monday's game could mark the return of Matthew Lombardi to the Coyotes' lineup. Lombardi played for Calgary before being traded to Phoenix (for the first time), along with Brandon Prust and a first round pick (Brandon Gormley), in exchange for Olli Jokinen and a third round pick.