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Carolina Hurricanes vs Phoenix Coyotes Recap: Game of inches

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Saturday night.

Christian Petersen

Hockey is a game of inches, bounces and opportunities. One play can swing a game.

On Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes made one more play than the Phoenix Coyotes and left the desert with two points and a 3-1 win.

The Coyotes did a lot of things right. They scored first, they killed every penalty, won the majority of the faceoffs, out-hit and out-blocked the Hurricanes. However, the scoreboard tells the opposite story.

"We have a saying we like to use," coach Dave Tippett said. "'Every play counts' and (this game) comes down to one faceoff that was just a loose puck battle that we lost, and it ends up...the one that is the difference in the game.."

Phoenix had its opportunities but couldn't put a second puck past back-up netminder Justin Peters. Peters stopped 37-of-38 shots en route to his seventh win of the season despite some shaky rebound control.

"(We) could have easily deserved a better fate tonight," Tippett said. "We could have used a spark from someone tonight that just didn't come."

A big reason that spark never manifested itself was the Coyotes' inability to stay out of the box. The Yotes took five minor penalties and gave the Canes four power play opportunities in the first 50 minutes of the game. Phoenix killed all four power plays, but they could not sustain the offensive pressure they showed to start the game.

"I thought we shot ourselves in the foot with costly and timely penalties," Paul Bissonnette said.

Bissonnette's play has picked up over the last several games and he opened the scoring on Saturday night. Arena exploded with cheers as Bissonnette scored his first goal of the season to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. It was his first goal in more than two years, the last coming Nov. 19, 2011, and his first at home since 2010. Jeff Halpern poked the puck to Connor Murphy at the right point who fired a shot-pass toward the stick of Bissonnette. The player affectionately known as "Biz Nasty" deflected the puck into an open net on a play he drew up before the previous faceoff.

Bissonnette said, at the intermission, he told Murphy to look for his stick as he skated toward the net because he was left open on the previous play. The rookie payed attention and the successful communication showed up on the scoreboard.

The Hurricanes would claw back into the game with Nathan Gerbe's seventh goal of the year. Gerbe skated into the Phoenix zone on a 2-on-1. He waited out defenseman Keith Yandle and wristed the puck past Smith to tie the game at one.

Phoenix killed off a pair of Carolina power plays to maintain the 1-1 tie heading into the third period.

The Coyotes had to feel good entering the third period as they were 5-0-1 in games when they were tied after two periods. Unfortunately for the Yotes, the first 15 minutes did not go as planned.

Carolina struck first in the third period, taking its first lead of the game. Jeff Skinner came in from the wing grabbed the puck sitting in the dot, after Eric Staal tied his man up in the faceoff circle, and shot it top shelf while falling down.

This was the play that proved to be the difference in the game.

The Coyotes dominated the final five minutes of the game but could not solve Peters. Staal put the game out of reach scoring his third point of the night into the empty net.

After the play, Staal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson mixed it up behind the net. Both teams jumped into the fray. A Martin Hanzal shove of Justin Faulk was met with a pair of punches to the face. In the end, six penalties were handed out and the Coyotes spent the last six seconds of the game on the power play, only their second power play opportunity of the game.

Phoenix ended the game with the energy they wished they had before their final push in the third period.

"An extra five, 10 percent might have been enough tonight. We just didn't have it," Rob Klinkhammer said.

The Coyotes head eastward for a four-game road trip as they try to claw their way back into playoff position.

Paw Prints

  • Hurricanes' perspective
  • Shane Doan did not play but updated the media on his status during the game. He is not sure what he has but he's experiencing fever, headaches and flu-like symptoms. The team and Doan are awaiting test results.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt dropped the puck in pre-game.
  • Bissonnette led all players in first period shots with three.
  • Yandle was assessed a 10-minute misconduct with six seconds left in the game.
  • Mike Smith stopped 30-of-32 shots.
  • Attendance: 11,697

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Justin Peters: Stopped 37-of-38 shots and stole two points for Carolina

2. Eric Staal: Three points (1-2-3).

3. Paul Bissonnette: Scored the lone Coyotes goal to snap a scoreless streak of more than two years.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes head out on the road for their second four-game road trip of December. Phoenix will start its trip through eastern Canada (and Buffalo) with a game in Montreal on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.