The Phoenix Coyotes knew going in to last night's game that they would need to play better than they did against Edmonton the night before. Playing a rested Vancouver Canucks team on the second night of a back-to-back, this game would always be tough. Jason LaBarbera got the start in net for the first time since the team's dismal performance in Tampa Bay a month ago. LaBarbera reacted as we should have known he would - a dominant 46 save performance leading the Coyotes to a 3-1 win.
For the Coyotes, it was their second trip through Western Canada for the season and the second time that they were able to capture all 6 points available, making them the first team to complete this rare double western Canada sweep since the 1999-2000 St. Louis Blues. The win was Coyotes' fifth in a row and they are 6-0-1 in their last seven games placing themselves firmly into 4th place in the Western Conference, just a single point behind the idle San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes will now return to Glendale on Sunday to start a 6-game homestand against defending Stanley Cup Champions, Chicago.
Although the Coyotes played a less-penalized game than they had the previous night, this affair would be decided by special teams. Midway through the third period, the Coyotes would end up down two men after an iffy call on Adrian Aucoin and a fairly obvious penalty to Rostislav Klesla. Remarkably, despite being the top team in the league on the power play, Vancouver has not scored a single 5-on-3 goal this year, and the Coyotes were able to keep that stat intact.
Mere minutes later, Alex Burrows would be called for a 5-minute boarding penalty that looked like the right call in real time despite how the slowed-down replays made it seem. The Coyotes would cash in twice on the major power play with Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan establishing a joint new team-lead for goals with 18 each. Lee Stempniak would ice the game with an empty netter after the Canucks had trimmed the lead to 2-1 on a Christian Ehrhoff goal.
BULLET POINT NOTES FROM GAME:
- Coyotes draw the first power play of the game as Keith Yandle takes a high stick. The Canucks are a terrific PK team, so the Coyotes will need to step up their efforts on the power play.
- The Coyotes don't really get anything started and before the penalty ends Taylor Pyatt gets called for a cross check as he touches Keith Ballard and Bally sells the call. It's Linus Omark "elbow" style, and Tippett is expressing his displeasure to the refs early.
- The Canucks have a lot more going on their power play and Jason LaBarbera has to make his first really solid save of the game on Ryan Kesler from right in front.
- Derek Morris has really improved his play recently and makes great stretch passes. He almost frees Radim Vrbata, but Vrby is thwarted at the last second by a good check from Ballard.
- After a terrible turnover by David Schlemko, Labarbera makes a HUGE save on Christopher Higgins from right in front of the net. Labby is looking much better than his last start against Tampa Bay.
- Coyotes going back on the power play as Roberto Luongo takes a delay of game penalty playing the puck over the glass.
- Labby takes down Daniel Sedin as he tries to poke the puck away and the Coyotes are going back to the penalty box. This isn't quite as bad as last night, but still waaaaaay too many penalties to be taking against Vancouver. No real good opportunities as the 'Yotes are locking things down in front of Barbs...
- Yandle makes a nifty move and gets hauled down to give the Coyotes another power play. Two power plays drawn by Yandle already today as Ballard goes for tripping.
- The kids generate the best opportunity of any thus far for the Coyotes as Brett MacLean drove through a few defenders, found the puck and put the puck in front off of Mikkel Boedker, who just couldn't get a good shot on Luongo.
- Coyotes getting severely out shot (12-6) towards the end of the period, but we remain scoreless. Good effort from Barbs so far.
- Prior to the second period starting, Coach Tippett comes onto the bench before the Coyotes to talk with one of the referees. Not sure I've ever seen that before...interesting stuff and it looked to be a good conversation, not heated or anything.
- The Kid line keeps bringing the pressure as Turris and MacLean each get decent shots and have the Canucks scrambling a bit in their own end. Luongo is holding on, but this is a great start to the second for the Coyotes.
- Amazing pass by Vernon Fiddler to launch Lee Stempniak, but Sami Salo whacks him a few times and gets the stick in to eliminate a shot, but the refs don't make a call. It was worse than what Yandle did that drew the penalty shot last night.
- Another weird play by Schlemko almost bounces off of Barbs and into the net. Hasn't been the best game in terms of bad turnovers for Schlem.
- Back to the box for the Coyotes as Adrian Aucoin takes out Alex Burrows and gets whistled for the trip. Coyotes back to the PK.
- On the kill, Shane Doan has an unbelievable shift holding the puck deep in the Vancouver end and forcing Luongo and the defense to make several big saves.
- Somehow, one of the Sedins gets away with a trip of Aucoin as he is calling himself for the penalty. It is a head scratching moment as the second period winds down.
- Early in the second, coincidental minors put the teams at 4-on-4 action.
- Aucoin takes another penalty and its of the "weak" variety. Coyotes are drawing ref ire the way they were during the losing streak it seems and not getting the calls coming back the other way. That being said, only their fourth time short-handed tonight.
- And Rostislav Klesla takes a real trip penalty with Oakie still in the box and it's two men down for over a minute...HUGE kill coming...
- Barbs, Fiddler, Morris and Rozsival play unbelievable to prevent the Canucks from scoring on the 5-on-3, and with Aucoin back out there, the Coyotes draw a penalty on Mikael Samuelsson who is throwing punches as Barbs covers a puck after a scrum.
- Noted dirty hit purveyor Burrows guides Fiddler's face into the dasher board which knocks him to the ice and earns Burrows a 5-minute boarding major. I'm not sure the hit was really that bad, but at full speed and given how it clearly hurt Fiddy, this is a fine call. Coyotes need to take advantage of their 5-minute man advantage now.
- After over 2 minutes, the Coyotes finally get set up and Radim Vrbata, in the slot, has a puck come to him and he shuffles it past Luongo for the first goal of the game. Coyotes remain on the power play, now winning 1-0.
- Coyotes aren't done either, as Shane Doan rips a huge slapper from the point past a screen by Vrbata and past Luongo. 2-0 Coyotes.
- The Canucks enter desperation mode and cut the lead to 2-1 as Christian Ehrhoff puts in a rebound opportunity after Barbs stops his initial deflection shot.
- With Luongo on the bench, Stempniak ices it with the empty netter as the Canucks complain about a correct non-call after a Canuck falls over allowing Eric Belanger to take the puck out of the defensive zone to set up Desert Ninja's goal.
- The fans in Vancouver aren't too happy, but the bulk of the calls went their way and the Coyotes were able to cash in when they got the one call they needed. Great game for the Desert Dogs tonight.
- LaBarbera faces 47 shots for the night and is fantastic all night; well deserving of a first star selection.
FIVE FOR WINNING
- Play disciplined hockey - stay out of the penalty box and keep the game at five-on-five. If the game turns into a specialty team free-for-all, they are clearly mismatched and the advantage is solidly on Vancouver's side. I don't know if I'd call it a free-for-all, but the Coyotes certainly won the battle with two power play goals and some HUGE penalty kills for the game including that lengthy 5-on-3.
- Win more face-offs than Vancouver to control the game. With Malhotra out, they have a chance to control the pace. Well, we kept it close, winning 30 of 61 draws, but they won important ones when shorthanded and didn't allow Vancouver to completely control the puck for the entire game, particularly in the second and third periods.
- Limit the Sedin twins. They will still get their opportunities, but if they can somehow contain these two, they might be able to steal this game. Daniel got an assist on Vancouver's goal, but their opportunities were mostly from the outside and they weren't able to park in front of the net and complete their back-door passes.
- Stop turning the puck over. The Coyotes turned the puck over at inopportune times last night and it was just sheer luck that it didn't cost them the victory. Schlemko had a few BAD ones, but otherwise, the Coyotes just played a solid game all around, including doing a better job holding on to the puck.
- Continue to protect the goaltender. With Bryzgalov's appearance last night, there is a strong chance that Jason LaBarbera will find the rare start. I don't know how protected Barbs was facing 47 shots, but he stood on his head and played a simply fantastic game.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Jason LaBarbera - 46 saves on the night including some that were of the fantastic variety; Barbs drew the short straw in the back-to-back and played simply fabulous for the win.
2. Radim Vrbata - scores the first goal on the power play and then is sitting right in front of the net for Doan's goal.
3. Shane Doan - scores the game winning goal, plays huge minutes killing penalties, just everything you need from the Captain.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Okay … this game cannot go into OT … someone needs to score. I’m dressed and ready to go out, so no delaying it with extra game time.
-Angy [ask and ye shall receive as the Coyotes got the job done and in regulation so Angy could go out! But thanks for joining, come back any time...unless we are playing the Sharks, of course =P]
404 comments, nice and spirited...full leaderboard: