A slick goal by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and great play all around just wasn't enough in what is becoming a fairly serious rivalry between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets. Though the Yotes still managed to earn a point, it was the hard work in the first and third periods by the Coyotes and Ondrej Pavelec that made the full 65-plus minutes a clinic in rough and tumble hockey.
The first period in the battle of old and new started fairly normally but slowly devolved into a grudge match of near epic proportions. Just over a minute in, Zach Bogosian and Rob Klinkhammer went to the box for fighting with Bogosian getting an extra two for starting it (which would be served by teammate Chris Thorburn). It was a fairly dismal fight, but it really set the tone for what was to come. In their power play, the Coyotes only got off two shots and nearly allowed a shortie by Winnipeg's Michael Frolik.
With just over 12 minutes left, Zbynek Michalek went to the box for interference but was soon followed by former Chicago Blackhawk Andrew Ladd as he tripped Ekman-Larsson near the trapezoid. The abbreviated power play was a good effort by both teams but it was a wrister from OEL at 12:17 that put the Coyotes on the board (assists to Radim Vrbata and Klinkhammer).
That goal didn't help the Coyotes-Jets relationship, but Blake Wheeler's just a few minutes later buried it. A speedy Wheeler made it past the Coyotes defenders and nearly put it behind Mike Smith, but as more Jets came up to the net,Dustin Byfuglien began to poke at Smith and in the process tripped him. Meanwhile, the puck had slipped out from behind Smith and by the boards allowing Wheeler to easily put it past a dazed and confused No. 41. Needless to say, Smith was pissed, Dave Tippett was pissed, Howler was probably even pissed.
As the game progressed the Jets started getting closer to Smith and as James Wright took a run at Smitty, d-man Derek Morris stood up for his goaltender alongside Keith Yandle. Morris and Wright went to the box for roughing.
All in all the first period ended with the Coyotes having a slight 11-9 shot advantage and a grand total of 22 penalty minutes between the two teams.
The second period started well with both teams moving quickly but only four shots between both teams within the first five minutes. Then the game started to break loose as Shane Doan went to the box for high sticking against Mark Scheifele. The Coyotes held the ‘Peg to three shots on that power play but soon found themselves outshot 12-17.
With around 12 minutes left in the second, a net crash by the Jets lead to the puck dribbling behind Smith just as the whistle blew. Though fans in MTS Centre celebrated the ‘goal' it was immediately waved off. Despite the near miss, an interference call on OEL put the Yotes on their only unsuccessful penalty kill of the night as Bryan Little found a way to put the puck past Mike Smith making it a 2-1 game.
By now the box scores looked fairly similar for both teams. Shots on goal had the Jets up by one, same with hits but the Coyotes lead in blocked shots, faceoff wins and penalty minutes. Ending the second with a penalty didn't help either as the Coyotes would start the third period without Ekman-Larsson as he slashed Jacob Trouba in the waning seconds of the second period.
The Yotes kept the Jets to only two shots on the man advantage to start the third and were able to hold off all of their advances during the last 20 minutes. Five minutes in, Jim Slater took a two minute break for hooking Kyle Chipchura and opened the way for Martin Hanzal to score his 15th of the season. Assists went to David Schlemko and Mike Ribeiro after Hanzal's backhander tied the game up 2-2.
A hard hit from Thorburn sent Ekman-Larsson to the locker room and Thorburn to the box. The Jet would return to the game two minutes later, Ekman-Larsson was back after about 10. But still, the score remained the same leading to a tough overtime that wasn't even enough.
Winnipeg's Little and Ladd went scoreless, as did Mikkel Boedker and Vrbata for the Yotes. Devin Setoguchi drew first blood in the shootout and was answered by Antoine Vermette. However, Olli Jokinen found the right stuff and shot one past Smith giving Winnipeg what would become the shootout winner after a failed attempt by Ribeiro.
The takeaway - Phoenix is getting back to that gritty Coyotes hockey we all love with 22 hits and solid efforts all around. While discipline still needs some improvement, the message has been sent, they protect their own and will do everything to win.
Our Three Stars
1) Oliver Ekman-Larsson - He scores a goal, gets five shots, two hits and 29:18 of ice time AND he leaves the game for several minutes to get checked out. That is the definition of a tank.
2) Derek Morris - It's never okay for someone to rough up the goaltender and the refs should be on top of that, but when they aren't you need to stand up for him even if it costs you ice time. That's what D-Mo did, he set the example that all defensemen should live by.
3) Ondrej Pavelec - This man made some great saves that made up for some fairly serious defensive mistakes by the Jets.
- Total penalty minutes for the Coyotes came to a whopping 36. That's the same amount of time that Team Canada received during the entire Olympic men's tournament.
- The Yotes were 53% in the circle with top marks going to Vermette and Jeff Halpern with 71% and 63% respectively. Mike Ribeiro came in at 27%, that the 15th time he's come in under 30% in his 59 games so far this season.
- However, Ribeiro does lead the team in points with 41. Just one ahead of Vrbata who also logged an assist against the Jets.
- The last time the Coyotes won in a shootout was Nov. 5, which also happened to be the last time the Coyotes had a three game or more winning streak. That streak was broken by Anaheim the next night on Nov. 6. Here's to hoping that Colorado can be the turnaround.
- The Yotes are now just one point behind the Dallas Stars and four behind the Minnesota Wild, all are tied at 59 for games played.
The Jets may have shot down chances of the Coyotes starting with two points, but the Desert Dogs head south for another tough match up against the Colorado Avalanche and a chance at more points. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Center, the game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.