(Photos courtesy of Norm Hall)
It took 12 games, but Coyotes forward Mike Comrie has found his scoring touch.
Comrie scored two goals, including the game-winner with 1:28 left and Curtis Joseph stopped 13 shots to record his 400th career NHL win as the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Thursday night.
"Sometimes milestones are tougher and tougher to get once you start talking about them," said Joseph, who became the ninth goaltender in NHL history to reach the 400-win plateau. "But we came out and arguably played our best game this year and I give a lot of credit to our team. Mike Comrie is real hot which is nice, and we just need to get more guys hot and find ways to win."
Late in the final period, after numerous rebound attempts, Comrie was able to flip the puck past Calgary goaltender Philippe Sauve to score his third goal in the last two games. Mike Johnson and Ladislav Nagy collected assists on the game-winner.
"We won the draw and Nags made a great play to hold on to the puck," said Comrie. "I took two swipes at it and once it crossed the line I knew there was not much time left and it was a really good feeling."
The Coyotes had control most of the game, at one point out-shooting the Flames 28-6. Phoenix had 16 shots to Calgary's two in the second period alone.
"We are getting back on track and our lines are playing well," said Comrie. "We are creating a lot of chances and we when we do that we are a successful. But we still need to work on keeping our lead and shutting them down defensively."
Trailing 2-1, the Flames tied the game at the 6:54 mark of the third period on an Andrew Ference shot from the point. Calgary had a chance to take the lead with 2:36 left in the game when Jarome Iginla had an uncontested breakaway, but fired wide of the net.
"You got to give Curtis Joseph a lot of credit and that's why we brought him here," said Gretzky. "He stood up strong and tall in the third period when we needed him."
After a first period that failed to see either club find the back of the net, Iginla broke the scoreless tie at 4:09 of the second period when he connected with Daymond Langkow and fired a quick wrist shot past Joseph.
It took Phoenix 23 shots on net, but they finally solved Sauve on Zbynek Michalek's first goal as a Coyote. After an incredible two pad save on Paul Mara, Michalek was left alone in front of the crease and banged in the rebound.
"I had a chance to jump into the play and get in front of the net and was able to get a good shot on goal," said Michalek. "There was a big rebound and it was a pretty easy goal."
While on the power play, the Coyotes took a 2-1 lead with 7:23 left in the second period when Comrie scored his first goal of the game by putting a rebound past Sauve.
"After 10 games we're starting to get a little bit of an identity as a team," said Gretzky. "The thing I like most about our team is that we work hard. Since the first day of training camp, the work ethic of our group each and every day is tremendously strong. That enables you to get better everyday as a team. And that's what makes your team stronger."
On Wednesday, Coyotes goaltender Brian Boucher was sent to the Coyotes AHL affiliate in San Antonio for a conditioning assignment. During his first practice with the club, Boucher suffered a strain to his left knee as he tried to move from his right to his left to make a save. After consulting with the clubs doctors, Boucher returned to Phoenix on Thursday and underwent an MRI on his knee.
"The MRI was reviewed by our team doctors and the good news is that there was no damage to his knee," said Coyotes General Manager Michael Barnett. "He just suffered a strain and we expect him to return to San Antonio over the weekend and begin his rehab assignment on Wednesday.
The Coyotes wanted to be cautious with the injury since Boucher had already had the same knee surgically repaired in the late 1990's.
"At first, I thought I might have caused some damage to the cartilage in the knee," said Boucher. "But thankfully the MRI showed that there was no damage at all and it is just a strain."
Former Coyotes center Daymond Langkow made his first trip back to Glendale since being traded for Oleg Saprykin and Denis Gauthier on Aug. 26, 2004. Langkow recorded two assists in 20 minutes of ice time.
Centers Krystofer Kolanos and Jamie Lundmark were healthy scratches for the Coyotes. Center Craig MacDonald and forward Darren McCarty were scratched for the Flames.
The Coyotes will conclude their current homestand as they go for their third consecutive victory on Saturday against the Dallas Stars. The game time is set for 7:00 p.m. an can be seen on WB6 or heard on KDUS-1060 AM or KDKB-93.3 FM.