Coyotes tasked with slowing down Rangers' roll
Monday, 01.09.2012 / 1:32 PM
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff WriterCOYOTES (20-17-5) at RANGERS (26-9-4)
TV: FS-A (HD), MSG
Phoenix 4-4-2; New York 9-1-0
This is the second and final meeting between the teams. In a wild game in Phoenix on Dec. 17, the Rangers won 3-2 on a Brad Richards
goal with less than a tenth of a second remaining in the third period. The puck was on the goal line with the clock reading "00.1," then cleared the line completely just before time expired.
The Rangers enter this game rolling, winners in nine of 10. The Coyotes are on the outside of the playoff picture in the West, playing sub-.500 hockey since December. This game at Madison Square Garden kicks off a three-game road trip, which could be good news for the Coyotes -- they are 12-9-2 outside of Phoenix.
Coyotes: Shane Doan
has had a career most players would gladly accept -- 10 seasons of at least 20 goals, two seasons of at least 30, and he's done it all with one franchise.
After 1,161 games, he finally accomplished something he had never done before, scoring three goals in a game as the Coyotes crushed the Islanders 5-1 on Saturday. Doan's 305 goals coming into the game were second only to Scott Mellanby (319) for most scored by an NHL player without a hat trick.
"I gave people a good story for a long time and it lasted for a long time, but I'm pretty happy to get it. I wanted it," said Doan, who tipped a shot just wide with 12 seconds left that appeared to be his last kick at the can. "I looked up and there was about 4.5 seconds left and (Ray Whitney
) got the puck and I knew he was trying to find me and I thought, 'Oh my goodness.' I had to figure out a way to get up the ice because I was done. I knew he was going to get it to me for a shot … and I couldn't believe that it went in."
Coach John Tortorella said following the team's 3-2 overtime victory at home against the Panthers on Thursday that it marked the start of the "grind" portion of the season, when it's harder to get up for games than normal.
The Rangers found a way to get up for their game against the Penguins the following night, rallying to win 3-1 to extend their League lead in the standings. Henrik Lundqvist
held the fort early with the Rangers looking gassed and made 37 saves for the win.
"It looked early on like we were a team that was saying, 'Uh, oh, we're tired, we've won a lot of games here lately, this may be just our bad night,'" Tortorella said. "We played in spurts after that, but Lundqvist was unbelievable."
Lundqvist has won his last six starts and has a .965 save percentage over that span.
Phoenix has been playing without centers Martin Hanzal
(face) and Boyd Gordon
(lower body). Defenseman Adrian Aucoin
left Thursday's game after taking a puck in the face and did not play against the Islanders. … The Rangers are still without defensemen Michael Sauer
(concussion) and Steve Eminger
(shoulder). Wojtek Wolski
has recovered from a sports hernia surgery and is waiting for an opening to get back in the lineup.
Scoring first may decide this game. The Rangers are No. 1 in the League when scoring first with an 18-1-1 record. The Coyotes are fourth at 17-1-3.
"I trust this group. I just don't want it to slip. We have so much more work to do with this club. I just don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We're heading down the right road. I want to make sure we keep heading down the right road and not detour."-- Tortorella, on why he pulled his team off the ice at practice Monday and made them start over