In the past two road games, the Coyotes looked lost, disheartened, and listless. They found their rhythm tonight.
Phoenix played a well-rounded game to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 in regulation and earn their first road win of the season. While there won't be much time to celebrate, the team played extraordinarily well buzzer to buzzer.
Right out of the gate the Coyotes looked fresher than usual. They were faster to the puck and more aggressive in the offensive end. Their persistence paid off when Derek Morris scored his first of the season on a seeing eye slap shot 2:21 into the first. After missing the previous game with an upper body injury, the Coyotes appreciated having DMo back.
The Desert Dogs also appreciated having Rostislav Klesla back in the lineup too. Since being stretchered out of Jobing.com Arena after a vicious check by Jordan Nolan of the Los Angeles Kings, Klesla brought some much needed stability to the defensive corps, who were 3 for 3 killing penalties.
The Red Wings really only took control of the game for a brief moment in the 2nd period, when Joakim Andersson and Jonathan Ericcson scored within 53 seconds of each other. The Red Wings' lead would only last for about a minute however, as Mikkel Boedker got his first goal of the season on a rebound shot that was reminiscent of a Shane Doan OT winner in 2010.
Though the Coyotes went into the locker room tied 2-2, they were playing their style of hockey again. They got rewarded big time when Michael Stone uncorked an absolute howitzer of a shot past Jimmy Howard right as a Detroit penalty expired with less than 5 minutes to play in the 3rd. Mike Ribeiro recorded his first point as a Coyote on the play, making up for a turnover that led to the 2nd Detroit goal.
From there the Coyotes played lock down defense, and the Desert Dogs capitalized on a bad offensive zone turnover by Daniel Alfredsson to score an empty netter. Antoine Vermette got a much-deserved tally to close the scoring and seal the game.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Mike Smith. After being pulled against the New York Islanders, Smith had a nice bounce back game, stopping 28 shots and recording a .933 SV%.
2nd Star: Derek Morris. Morris made several big contributions in 18:26 on the ice. He scored his first goal of the year to open the scoring and assisted on Boedker's first.
1st Star: Antoine Vermette. Vermette did pretty much everything on the 1st line tonight. He won 63% of his faceoffs, was +3 on the ice, and was rewarded with an empty net goal to seal the deal.
- Brandon Yip was unable to dress for the Coyotes as Chris Summers' waiver status put Phoenix's roster over the league allowance. He is "assigned" to Portland until Summers clears.
- Regardless, the 4th line of Rob Klinkhammer, Paul Bissonnette, and Tim Kennedy played a strong game, which continues a trend of positive play from the Coyotes' bottom six.
- Phoenix absolutely dominated the Red Wings in the faceoff circle; they won 46 to Detroit's 24. Vermette won 17 of 27, Kyle Chipchura won 11 of 16, and Martin Hanzal won 14 of 19.
- Mike Smith appeared to be injured midway through the second period when a Detroit slap shot deflected off of his left forearm. He would not miss any time however, and had a strong game to get the win.
- Detroit still has yet to record a power play goal, and the Coyotes' penalty kill tonight was a big reason why. They were far more aggressive than in previous games and did an excellent job clogging the neutral zone.
The Coyotes will look to build on tonight's performance tomorrow when they travel to the City of Brotherly Love to play the Philadelphia Flyers. Expect Thomas Greiss to make his first start as a Coyote. Puck drops at 4 PM Arizona time.