The Coyotes faced a quick turnaround in this two games in two days road trip and when they get back on the plane tonight, one wonders if they will realize that they actually played two games rather than just playing one and then watching the game tape.But no, the Coyotes simply played another solid road game and beat another Western Conference foe 4-3 and moving potentially into 4th place in the West, up from 12th a mere two games ago.
Let's check the eerie similarities: Give up early goal to home team. Check. Battle back in the second, but give back momentum to the home team. Check. Grind it through in the third and pull out the win on a fairly lucky goal. Check.
Ilya Bryzgalov, playing for the first time in three games showed a bit of rust early in this one, giving up two goals in the first six minutes on shots from the point, albeit the first was deflected in front. After that, he dominated, making 37 saves en route to the victory, including several big saves late in the third.
The Coyotes played flat and tired through the first twenty minutes, but came out much stronger for the final forty as they extended their unbeaten in regulation streak to six games (4-0-2). Vernon Fiddler got the scoring started converting a nice deflection on a 2-on-1 break with Lauri Korpikoski for a shorthanded goal early in the second.
Then it was time to start snapping some more droughts as Lee Stempniak did a night earlier. Despite giving up a quick power play tally following the Fiddler goal, Eric Belanger chased home a rebound opportunity for his first goal in seemingly forever to get the 'Yotes back to 3-2. Entering the third period on a power play, Radim Vrbata scored off of a pretty feed from Shane Doan, the Coyotes' first power play goal in their prior 22 opportunities. Derek Morris rounded out the scoring sending a shot towards the net that plunked off of Mathieu Garon's glove, popped into the air and off of Garon's back and in. It wasn't pretty, but it served as the game winner.
From there, the Coyotes held on for dear life, killing back-to-back penalties while the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie and just kept peppering shots on net. A huge 4 point road trip for the Desert Dogs who return to the Valley to face the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night.
Bullet Point Notes From the Game:
- The Blue Jackets came out buzzing and looking like a rested team (which they were) while the coyotes looked flat.
- On the first Blue Jackets goal by Jared Boll, boll set the whole play in motion by making a big hit on Lee Stempniak that led Paul Bissonnette to chase after him and abandon his man at the point. Despite that, Boll was still standing in front of the net to deflect the puck in off of Ilya Bryzgalov.
- Just a few minutes later the Blue Jackets scored a similar goal as Rostislav Klesla just put one on net from the point and it found its way into the back of the net. Spotting a 2-0 lead to Columbus in the first 6 minutes was not likely a part of the Coyotes' game plan.
- On the Coyotes first power play, Radim Vrbata had a solid chance as he dangled into the crease, but couldn't tuck it behind Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon.
- Coyotes power play continues to struggle as they are now 0 for the last 2_ opportunities. They are getting some decent opportunities when they get set up, but they are not getting set up in the zone and continue to have trouble entering the zone.
- After playing the first 15 minutes fairly passive, the Coyotes picked up the physicality towards the end of the first. The 'Yotes generally do well in chippy contests, so hopefully they will keep it going as they try and get back into this game.
- Chippiness continued into the early part of the second as the team exchanged penalties - a high stick on columbus and a fairly weak hooking call on Martin Hanzal.
- Coyotes scored a rare short-handed goal on a beautiful redirect by Vernon Fiddler on a nice feed by Lauri Korpikoski just as the Columbus penalty expired...
- Columbus scored right back on their power play on a rip by Kristian Huselius from the top of the circle. Not sure why the Coyotes defense was nowhere near him.
- Then the Coyotes answered right back on a rebound from Eric Belanger scoring his first goal in forever by putting in the garbage after Shane Doan's initial shot was stopped.
- Midway through the second period Rick Nash came in on a rush and tried to make a highlight reel move past Derek Morris - thankfully, it was well defended - still have nightmares from the last time Nash did that.
- Lines were getting put in the mixer a bit in the second as Scottie Upshall moved on a line with Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney took his spot on the line with Belanger and Doan.
- Vrbata snapped his slump cashing in on the power play to start the third - so both streaks were snapped. It was a nice play following up on one of Garon's many rebounds.
- Right after the Vrbata goal, the Coyotes faced a big 5-on-3 kill with Derek Morris and Ed Jovanovski in the box, but they were able to hold on and keep the game tied. Vernon Fiddler was huge on the kill, playing two minutes.
- The 4th goal was a fluky one as Derek Morris put it towards the net and it hit something in front, bounced up in the air and went off of Garon's back and into the net.
- The Blue Jackets had a great shorthanded opportunity late in the third, but Bryzgalov played huge and was able to stonewall the opportunity.
- The Coyotes were forced to kill back-to-back penalties right at the end of the game as Morris and Adrian Aucoin took less than desirable penalties, but Bryz came up huge and the 'Yotes were able to survive.
OUR THREE STARS
1 - Vernon Fiddler - got the big shorthanded goal that got the 'Yotes turned around and then played big minutes on the penalty kill during the 5-on-3 disadvantage.
2 - Martin Hanzal - two assists on the day, won 7 of 12 faceoffs and was a force in front of Garon that certainly caused problems on Derek Morris' game winning goal.
3 - Ilya Bryzgalov - 37 saves, and shook of the shaky start to regroup and get the victory.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
OK so the Coyotes and my FLYERS and my local team Caps are both down 0-2…..I should’ve stuck to playng hockey rather than watching tonight!
-upcamogie [remarkably, the Flyers would also win and the Caps came back to force OT before losing 4-3]
Coyotes hit the ice at home for the start of a four-game homestand against Toronto, Anaheim, San Jose and Nashville. Other than Toronto, it's an all-Western Conference stretch with each team being among those in that 4-12 mash-up. Huge points and the Coyotes need to continue their solid play right into the All Star break to possibly create some separation.