The Phoenix Coyotes ended their Western Canada road trip on a high note by beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.
The Coyotes were under an enormous amount of pressure going into this game. After having lost their previous two games in horrific fashion, they were now squaring off against the Northwest Division powerhouse Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Thankfully for Coyotes fans, the Desert Dogs put together their strongest performance of the trip and beat Vancouver 4-2.
Right out of the gate the Coyotes looked like a much more focused team; they were making smart plays in their own end and forced the Canucks to play defense for long stretches. Both Mikkel Boedker and Antoine Vermette had golden chances to get on the scoresheet on an early power play, but Cory Schneider stood on his head and denied both of them. Vancouver would escape the penalty, but the Coyotes would eventually convert on a sick backhand at the top of the crease by Kyle Chipchura at 14:22. Also assisting on that goal was Paul Bissonnette, meaning he is now on a 3 game points streak. The Coyotes would go into the intermission up 1-0 and with a strong road period under their belts.
Not satisfied with scoring sick goals, Kyle Chipchura engaged in some fisticuffs with Dale Weise a few minutes into the 2nd. Both landed some powerful blows but neither went down. Phoenix would score their second of the night thanks to a terrific pass from David Rundblad and a sick snipe from Boedker. Unfortunately, the inability for the Coyotes to finish would rear its ugly head yet again, as Vancouver answered with a point shot goal from Jason Garrison less than two minutes after the Coyotes grabbed the two goal lead. Boyd Gordon took a tripping penalty one minute later, putting the Coyotes on their heels. They bent, but did not break and went into the third frame still up 2-1.
The first half of the 3rd was fairly uneventful, but the second half of it was far more lively. Antoine Vermette, snake bit throughout this game, finally found the back of the net 12 minutes into the third. Yet like in the 2nd frame, Phoenix conceded a goal one minute later to Henrik Sedin, setting up yet another exciting finish. This time though, the Coyotes kept it clean, stuck to their defensive assignments, and eventually found Kyle Chipchura for an empty-netter to seal a 4-2 victory.
Five for Winning
1. Defensive Lapses. The Coyotes have lost late leads the last two games due to poor execution in their own zone late in games. They need to clean things up or the goal lights in Vancouver may be working overtime. Although Phoenix gave up a couple goals shortly after scoring their own, they held the line down the stretch and won in regulation.
2. Second line must be the top line. With the team's top 2 scorers out he past two games, the Coyotes depth players worked hard to get on the score sheet. The Boedker-Vermette-Doan line needs to find a way to get on the board. Their play has been better than their boxcar stats indicate, but right now their team needs them to finish. Boedker and Vermette both had a goal and an assist in this game. Doaner still needs to get it going but did have a couple of quality chances.
3. Offense from #3. Prior to the road trip Keith Yandle looked to be heating up. Based on the games in Edmonton and Calgary it may have been a false alarm. Like the team's second line Yandle needs to find his way onto the score sheet. Interestingly enough Michael Stone and David Rundblad were the only two defensemen to find their way onto the score sheet. Yandle was largely invisible tonight, and while that meant he wasn't contributing offensively, he also played a responsible defensive game.
4. Tie Up The Twins. Don't let the Sedins have time and space. Daniel got an assist on Henrik's goal, but other than that they didn't do much. Daniel did take a diving call in the 2nd, much to my delight.
5. Shots. The Coyotes have struggled with possession and shooting their last two games. They need to find a way to keep the puck away from the opposition and put it on net consistently. Phoenix got outshot 22-31 in this one, but more importantly they did a much better job dictating the pace of the game and strung together some sustained forechecks throughout the game.
Our Three Stars
3rd Star: Kyle Chipchura. The 4th line of this team has been incredible recently. Chipchura continued his strong play, scoring two goals and dropping the gloves for a fight.
2nd Star: Mikkel Boedker. Mikkel had a goal and an assist tonight. Hopefully this is the beginning of a streak for the young Dane.
1st Star: Antoine Vermette. General Manager Don Maloney called out Vermette by name as a guy who needed to contribute more. Tonight he had a goal, an assist, and won a staggering 79% of his faceoffs. Message received.
The Coyotes will return home Thursday night to another Northwest Division matchup against the Minnesota Wild. In their first meeting, the Coyotes won a tight game 2-1. Puck drops on 7 PM at Jobing.com Arena, and can be heard on XTRA 910 AM and Fox Sports Arizona.