The 42nd game of the season isn't typically thought of as a "must-win." You wouldn't know it by the way the Phoenix Coyotes or their back-up goaltender played on Tuesday night.
The Coyotes finally broke out of their New Year slumber, capturing their first win of 2014, a 6-0 victory over the Calgary Flames Tuesday night.
"It was a big game for us -- a must-win. We needed those points," goaltender Thomas Greiss said after his second career shutout.
Greiss' 27-save shutout was the first of the season for a Coyotes team that has struggled with inconsistent defense and goaltending.
"It's always nice to get a shutout," Greiss said. "The guys played really great in front of me, blocked a lot of shots and chances away, so it made it easy for me."
Part of the ease was a reinvigorated Coyotes offense that scored three goals in both the second and third periods en route to their largest victory of the season.
Lauri Korpikoski led the team with three points and is heating up after returning from an upper-body injury on Dec. 21.
"It took some time to get my conditioning back," Korpikoski said. "But it's coming back and I feel pretty good."
The Turku, Finland native has scored two goals and five points in his last four games and was selected to represent Team Finland in the 2014 Olympics.
"I'm happy to be playing in the Olympics, but I want to focus the next month on getting the Coyotes in good position and contributing," Korpikoski said.
Phoenix was able to dominate a team they are way above in the standings, something they have not always been capable of doing, and something many thought they wouldn't do after the first period.
A rather pedestrian first period saw no goals and 14 defensive turnovers between the two teams. The initial takes on the Coyotes breaking their losing streak weren't good, but they would atone for their first period mistakes quickly in the second period.
It seemed inevitable that the slow, mucky start to the game would be broken with a greasy goal. Just over two minutes into the middle period, that's exactly what happened.
Captain Shane Doan, and his arm, scored the first goal of the game and his first goal since returning to the lineup after missing a handful of games with a form of Rocky Mountain fever.
Mikkel Boedker threw the puck out in front from below the goal line and it bounced off Doan's arm and into the net. It was Boedker's 28th point of the season, tying a career high.
One minute and 36 seconds later, another fortunate bounce gave the Coyotes a two-goal lead.
Boedker would set a new career high for points in a season with No. 29, giving Phoenix a 3-0 lead. Mike Ribeiro found an open Boedker, from behind the net, for a one-timer. It was Boedker's 13th goal of the season, tying him with Doan for the team lead.
For the second game in a row, the Coyotes benefited from a three-goal second period. Unlike Saturday, the Coyotes would benefit from a three-goal third period as well.
Phoenix extended its lead to four on Korpikoski's sixth goal of the season and second in as many games. Vrbata poked the puck from the faceoff dot on net and Korpikoski took a couple whacks at the puck before popping it into the net.
The Coyotes added a power play tally for good measure on Rob Klinkhammer's first special teams point of the season.
An important win after a disappointing start to 2014, but maybe not the statement win the scoreboard indicates.
"There's some things to build on, but there's still lots of areas to make sure we get better in," coach Dave Tippett said. "We got puck luck there a little bit, so don't get carried away on the score. There's a lot more work to be done here."
- Calgary's perspective
- Advanced game stats
- In addition to setting a new career high in points, Boedker also leads the team in first period goals (5), second period goals (7) and even strength goals (11).
- The Coyotes are now 11-2-3 this season and 124-6-8 under Tippett when leading after two periods.
- After getting out-possessed for most of the game, the Yotes finished with a positive 5-on-5 Corsi.
- Mike Smith and Oliver Ekman-Larsson were also selected to their respective Olympic teams.
- Attendance: 10,229
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Thomas Greiss - 27-save shutout, his and the team's first of the season.
2. Lauri Korpikoski - Three points including a goal.
3. Mikkel Boedker - Two points to set a new career high for points in a season.
The Coyotes take the ice for game five of their six-game home stand on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.