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Coyotes cap amazing month with win over Canucks

Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 1:59 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Coyotes cap amazing month with win over Canucks
Tuesday's win gave the Coyotes an 11-0-1 record this month -- and avenged their only loss, a 2-1 shootout defeat in Vancouver on Feb. 13.
The only bad news for the Phoenix Coyotes after Tuesday night is that they have no more games in February.

As they've done all month long, the Coyotes found a way to win again in their final February contest, getting a third-period goal by Ray Whitney and shootout tallies by Whitney and Mikkel Boedker to beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1.

The win gave the Coyotes an 11-0-1 record this month -- and avenged their only loss, a 2-1 shootout defeat in Vancouver on Feb. 13.

The hero, as he's been all month, was goaltender Mike Smith, who stopped 39 shots -- the only puck to get past him was a first-period shot by Alex Edler that hit two Phoenix defenseman and went into the net. Smith was flawless for the rest of the night -- including shootout saves on Edler and Mason Raymond. He went 11-0-0 in February.

The Coyotes went into February on the verge of dropping out of the playoff race. They'll head into March on top of the Pacific Division.
 
With four games on Wednesday's month-ending Leap Day schedule, here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Tuesday's action:

Eastern Conference


Division leaders

New York Rangers (86 points) had the first of two days off before beginning a stretch of three games in less than 72 hours with a visit to Carolina.

Boston (77 points after Tuesday's 1-0 home loss to Ottawa) couldn't solve rookie goaltender Robin Lehner at home just three nights after winning 5-3 in Ottawa against veteran backup Alex Auld. It was the first loss for the Bruins against Ottawa in five games this season.

Florida (72 points after Tuesday's 5-3 win at Toronto) rode a fast start and a solid performance by goaltender Jose Theodore to its third win in four days. Marcel Goc and Mike Santorelli scored to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead just 2:21 into the game. Santorelli finished with a pair of goals, while Jason Garrison and Stephen Weiss connected in the third period.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (77 points) had a second day off before beginning a brief two-game road trip on Wednesday night at Dallas.

Ottawa (76 points after Tuesday's 1-0 win at Boston) got a first-period goal by Erik Karlsson and 32 saves by Robin Lehner to end an eight-game losing streak to the Bruins. The Senators moved within one point of Boston for first place in the Northeast Division, but the Bruins have four games in hand.

Philadelphia (75 points after Tuesday's 1-0 loss at San Jose) gave up a goal 1:22 into the game -- and the NHL's highest-scoring team couldn't find a way to get even. The Flyers went 2-2-0 on a four-game Western trip, with both wins coming after regulation. They haven't won in San Jose since Nov. 5, 1999.

New Jersey (74 points) had the first of two off-days before a tough three-in-four stretch on the road -- the Devils are at Boston on Thursday, at Washington the next night, and visit the Islanders on Sunday afternoon.

Washington (69 points after Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win against the Islanders) was less than four minutes away from being shut out at home by the Islanders. But two goals by Troy Brouwer, the second after the Caps pulled goalie Michal Neuvirth, earned them one point -- and a great individual effort by Alex Ovechkin, who scored in OT on a solo rush, got the one that moved them into eighth place in the East.

On the outside looking in:

Winnipeg (68 points) had the day off after losing at home to Edmonton on Monday and fell out of the top eight when the Caps rallied to win. The Jets have a big test Thursday when first-place Florida comes to the MTS Centre.

Toronto (65 points after a 5-3 home loss to Florida on Tuesday) trailed 2-0 before many of the 19,420 fans at the Air Canada Centre had found their seats and spent the night unsuccessfully playing catch-up. Boos cascaded down after Florida took a 4-1 lead early in the third. The good thing for the Leafs is that they get right back onto the ice Wednesday night in Chicago. 

Tampa Bay (64 points after Tuesday's 2-1 home win against Montreal) got a League-leading 44th goal from Steven Stamkos and the second of the season from Adam Hall, who hadn't scored in 44 games. Mathieu Garon made 23 saves, including a couple of big stops during a five-minute power play in the second period.

Buffalo (62 points) had a third straight day off on Tuesday. The Sabres visit Anaheim on Wednesday to begin a stretch of three games in four nights in the West.

Western Conference

Division leaders


Vancouver (88 points after a 2-1 shootout loss at Phoenix) got a superb 34-save performance by Cory Schneider, but couldn't get more than one puck past Mike Smith in the finale of a six-game road trip that ended 3-1-2. The point kept the Canucks on top of Detroit; they now go home for seven in a row and have 13 of their last 18 at Rogers Arena.

Detroit (87 points after Tuesday's 5-2 win at Columbus) overcame the absence of Pavel Datsyuk (knee surgery) and Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle injury) with four third-period goals to beat the last-place Blue Jackets and move back on top in the Central Division. Henrik Zetterberg's bad-angled goal midway through a four-goal third period broke a 2-2 tie.

Phoenix (75 points after Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win against Vancouver) just keeps finding ways to win. The Coyotes are 7-0-1 in their last eight one-goal games and finished February having earned 23 of a possible 24 points. They have Wednesday off before Calgary comes to Jobing.com Arena on Thursday to begin March's schedule.

The next five:

St. Louis (85 points) had Tuesday off. The Blues will try to improve to 4-for-4 on their six-game trip when they visit Edmonton on Wednesday.

Nashville (81 points after Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Carolina) couldn't hold a pair of one-goal leads, then came up a goal short after falling behind 4-2. The Predators may have shown the effects of a tough travel schedule -- weather kept them from leaving Nashville after Monday's 2-1 win against Los Angeles, and they had to fly to Raleigh on Tuesday.

San Jose (73 points after Tuesday's 1-0 win against Philadelphia) got a 26-save performance by Antti Niemi to make Ryane Clowe's goal 82 seconds after the opening faceoff stand up for the win. The Flyers were the perfect team for the Sharks to see after a grueling nine-game trip that ended 2-6-1 -- San Jose has won nine in a row and is 11-0 with two ties in its last 13 meetings with Philadelphia, which hasn't won at the Shark Tank since Nov. 5, 1999.

Chicago (73 points) had a second straight day off before Toronto come to the United Center on Wednesday. The Hawks will again be without captain Jonathan Toews, who will miss his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury.

Dallas (70 points) will host Pittsburgh on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN/TSN2).

On the outside looking in:

Colorado (70 points) had the first of two days off before Columbus comes to the Pepsi Center on Thursday.

Los Angeles (70 points after Tuesday's 4-0 win at Minnesota) won for the second time in three games after last week's big trade that brought in Jeff Carter from Columbus. Carter has yet to get a point with the Kings, but L.A. got 26 saves by Jonathan Bernier and a goal and an assist each by Anze Kopitar and Jason Williams.

Calgary (67 points) is off until a visit to Phoenix on Thursday night.

Minnesota (65 points after Tuesday's 4-0 home loss to Los Angeles) held the Kings to just 15 shots, but the Kings scored twice in the first 10 minutes and were never threatened.

Anaheim (64 points) is back home for a Wednesday night visit from Buffalo after a 4-1 loss at Colorado on Monday put a wrench into its playoff drive.
Quote of the Day

I've never seen anything like that. The great thing is I don't know how many times guys bailed me out where they had to score to keep it alive and they did every time. It was amazing. It's not the way we draw it up, to go 20 rounds here, but obviously it's a big win.

— Florida goalie Roberto Luongo after the Panthers defeated the Capitals in the longest shootout in NHL history on Tuesday
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