GLENDALE, Ariz. - With a string of six home games ahead after Tuesday's game against the Coyotes and an opportunity to turn their season in the right direction, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle held a series of one-on-one meetings with each Duck players in the hopes of airing out some bubbling issues.
"We talked about the things that they thought ailed us and what I thought ailed them," Carlyle said. "Players like to have their opinions heard … we felt much better about ourselves today."
The good feelings turned into goals by Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and Corey Perry in the first 15:20 of the game. From there, the Ducks relied on 31 saves from Jonas Hiller and 17 blocked shots from his teammates to beat the frustrated Coyotes 3-1 and end their seven-game trip with a 3-4-0 record. They have a couple of days off before a New Year's Eve date with Philadelphia.
Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov returned from a five-game absence but allowed three goals on the first seven shots he saw and the Coyotes were limited to one goal for the fourth straight game and fell to 6-5-4 at home this season. They had plenty of scoring chances and others were smothered by the hard-working Ducks.
"Some people score goals, my job is to block shots," said Anaheim defenseman Andres Lilja, who led the team with seven blocks. "This was a big win for us. We have to realize what time of year it is. We need to put some wins up; otherwise we're not going to be playing come April."
The Ducks but lost captain Ryan Getzlaf in the second period when a Shane Doan shot deflected off the stick of Anaheim's Cam Fowler and struck Getzlaf in the forehead. A pool of blood formed on the ice immediately before he was helped off the ice for attention. But Carlyle said the injury doesn't appear serious.
"He's got an upper-body injury, isn't that what they say?" Carlyle said with a smile. "He got a puck in the forehead; I can't tell you how many stitches. He wanted to play, but I thought it was a risk to put him back in. It's always scary when a player takes a puck in the face, but it was just below the helmet-line, so hopefully it was a compression cut."
Doan scored the only goal in Phoenix's first home game since a new lease was approved with the city of Glendale and prospective new owner Matthew Hulsizer on Dec. 13. The game drew a crowd of 14,032 -- by far the largest midweek crowd of the season. But while the fans enjoyed $1 hot dogs and drinks, they weren't as pleased to watch the Coyotes score only once for the fourth straight game in their return from a six-game trip during which they went 2-3-1.
"You give them three goals to start a game and it's not rocket science -- after that it's going to be a tough one," Doan said. "We've only scored one goal in each of the last (four) games, that's not going to win you games. That's not going to give you a chance. Give Hiller credit, he made some big saves … but we have to be better than that."
The Coyotes had allowed only 20 first-period goal all season - tied with Boston and Vancouver for the fewest in the NHL. But playing for the first time since taking a hit to the head from New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner and suffering an upper-body injury, Bryzgalov appeared shaky at the start.
Sbisa lofted an innocent-looking shot from the left point that eluded Bryzgalov's glove at 6:27. It was Sbisa's first NHL goal in 72-game career Just 5:17 later, Lupul got behind the defense and beat Bryzgalov from a bad angle to make it 2-0. Then at 15:20, Phoenix defenseman Sami Lepisto's outlet attempt went right on the tape of Perry in the slot and he quickly fired home a wrister to complete the barrage.
"We know what it's like to be on the other end (of a 3-0 deficit), we've had a couple of those," said Perry, whose goal was his 20th of the season. "When you get up like that in the first period, it's always a good feeling."
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said most of Phoenix's wounds were self-inflicted.
"The first one was a screen shot that found its way in," Tippett said. "The second one we played a two-on-two very poor, and the third one is one of those critical mistakes that seem to have crept into our game here lately. And let's be honest, the last few games we haven't been exactly lighting up the scoreboard."
The Coyotes continued to ring up the shots and the scoring chances in the second period but couldn't solve Hiller until Anaheim's Matt Beleskey and Andy Sutton took penalties four seconds apart. The Ducks did a brilliant job blocking shots during most of the extended 5-on-3 power play, but with 19 seconds left, Doan put home a Ray Whitney rebound for his fifth goal of the season. Of his 17 points this season, seven have come in four games against Anaheim (2-5-7).
The Coyotes had three more power plays in the third period - and another 5-on-3 opportunity for 37 seconds - but Hiller stood tall and won his 17th game of the season and left the Coyotes with one goal or less on five of the last seven games -- 11 goals in all.
|Luca Sbisa (1) Slapshot - ASST: Saku Koivu (9)|
1 - 0 ANA
|Joffrey Lupul (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Brandon McMillan (3), Andreas Lilja (3)|
2 - 0 ANA
|Corey Perry (20) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
3 - 0 ANA
|PPG - Shane Doan (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Ray Whitney (18), Keith Yandle (18)|
3 - 1 ANA
|Paul Bissonnette Fighting (maj) against George Parros|
|George Parros Fighting (maj) against Paul Bissonnette|
|Corey Perry Interference on goalkeeper against Ilya Bryzgalov|
|Derek Morris Interference against George Parros|
|Matt Beleskey Roughing against Lee Stempniak|
|Andy Sutton Tripping against Scottie Upshall|
|Shane Doan Roughing against Matt Beleskey|
|Todd Marchant Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Andy Sutton Cross checking against Eric Belanger|
|Todd Marchant Tripping against Wojtek Wolski|
|Martin Hanzal Holding against Matt Beleskey|