Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
The Phoenix Coyotes edged past the Anaheim Ducks in the first game of a three-game series. The Coyotes won 5-4 in a shootout.
No power plays, no problem for a Yotes team who never had a man advantage at any point in the game.
The re-emergence of the recently maligned top-six forwards for the Coyotes was a key factor in the Desert Dogs pulling out a win. Each member of the top six recorded at least one point. Lauri Korpikoski had two goals of his own breaking an 11-game goal drought.
Ducks' forward Andrew Cogliano opened the scoring and added two more en route to his second hat trick in the last three games against the Coyotes. Cogliano has scored six goals in the last eight periods against Coyotes goalie Mike Smith; a fact that Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett did not believe had any underlying significance.
Anaheim wasted little time putting the Coyotes in a hole as Cogliano scored just 21 seconds into the game. The goal was nearly identical to Minnesota's first goal Thursday night, as Cogliano was left all alone on Smith's left side to tap in a pass from the centerman. Phoenix tied the game after Matthew Lombardi backhanded a rebound from a Raffi Torres shot, off the shoulder of Viktor Fasth and into the net. The play was set up by a phenomenal cross-ice pass off the boards from Shane Doan to Torres. After yet another slow start to a game, the Coyotes rebounded and played a strong remainder of the opening period.
The Coyotes would take a 2-1 lead after Lauri Korpikoski placed a beautiful wrister just over the glove of Fasth. The Yotes would have the lead for just 27 seconds. Cogliano scored his second goal of the game in the same way Korpikoski scored his first. Anaheim almost re-took the lead, but Bobby Ryan's shot from inside 10-feet was saved by the heel of Smith. Smith was down and out but, while on his stomach, kicked his legs up to make the save. Colgliano would complete his hat trick just minutes later as he continues to own Smith.
The Desert Dogs stormed out of the gate following the second intermission. Korpikoski scored his second goal of the game just 16 seconds into the third period tying the game at three. The back-and-forth game saw yet another lead change as Saku Koivu gave the Ducks the 4-3 lead by scoring a power play goal. Kyle Chipchura was sent to the penalty box for a very questionable goaltender interference penalty. The Desert Dogs answered once again, this time with a goal by Steve Sullivan.
A holding penalty by Antoine Vermette forced the Yotes to kill off the final 1:58 of the overtime period. They killed off Anaheim's 4-on-3 power play and sent the game into the shootout. Smith stopped all three Ducks and Steve Sullivan scored the only goal of the shootout to seal a 5-4 victory for Phoenix.
- Cogliano has scored six goals in his last three games against Smith and the Coyotes. All six goals have been at Jobbing.com Arena.
- Anaheim's Kyle Palmieri left the game before the third period with an upper-body injury.
- Smith improves his career record against Anaheim to 7-3-1.
- Mike Stone led all Coyotes with four hits.
- Neither Chris Brown nor Rob Klinkhammer dressed for the game.
Five For Winning
1. Top 6 Production. With the exception of Mikkel Boedker, the Coyotes haven't gotten much out of their best forwards. Obviously having Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal injured hurts, but players like Antoine Vermette, Shane Doan, Lauri Korpikoski, and Steve Sullivan have all been around long enough to figure it out. The Coyotes need them to start putting the puck in the net. The top-six finally stepped up for the ‘Yotes as Doan, Korpikoski, Vermette, Boedker and Sullivan all had point.
2. Play With the Lead. With the way Fasth has been playing, the Coyotes do not want to give him a cushion. If they can find a way to score first, their record suggests they will have a much easier time winning. The Coyotes could not score first and, in fact, only led 27 seconds of the game. But they led when it counted and walked away with two points.
3. Slow it Down. If these games turn into track meets, the Coyotes will be in serious trouble. They're much better when they clog the neutral zone and set up their forecheck. The Ducks have quite a few dynamic offensive players. The less space they have, the better. The game was at a steady pace until mid way through the second period. At that point, the game became a "track meet" as six goals were scored in the second half of the game.
4. Special Teams. These two teams are a tale of opposites. Anaheim has the best power play in the NHL, but the 3rd worst penalty kill. Meanwhile, Phoenix has a Top 10 PK unit but a struggling power play group. A good showing from the penalty kill units plus a power play goal here and there could make the difference between picking up 6 points or zero. Phoenix killed off two of the three Anaheim penalties but was not afforded the opportunity at a power play of their own.
5. Swing the Standings. This series has the potential to be a 12 point swing. No other team in the NHL will have a chance against the leader of their division like the one the Coyotes have. If they can't take the majority of these points, the hill they have to climb will turn into a mountain. But if they can win and win in regulation, the Coyotes will give themselves a tremendous statistical and mental boost. The Coyotes did win but Anaheim left Jobbing.com Arena with one more point than they had coming in.
Our Three Stars Of The Game
1. Andrew Cogliano: Hat trick and +3 on the night. Great game for the losing team.
2. Lauri Korpikoski: Two goals that either tied the game or put the Coyotes ahead. The best game for Korpi in quite some time.
3. Saku Koivu: Three points including a goal. Cogliano's big night has a lot to do with Koivu.
In case you missed it, this is Mike Smith's entry in the save of the year category:
More Anaheim! Game two of this three game series will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday. Déjà vu all over again.