Photo Credit: AP Photo.Paul Vernon
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Columbus - Fredrik Norrena
On Tuesday night, Curtis Joseph recorded his 50th career shutout as the Phoenix Coyotes kicked off their four-game road trip with a 3-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Over the first three minutes of play, the Blue Jackets controlled the tempo of play as they continually entered the Coyotes zone with the puck, allowing Columbus to register the first five shots of the game. Despite the early pressure by the Blue Jackets, Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph was able to hold the fort and keep the game scoreless.
At 3:08 of the opening frame, the two clubs would receive matching minors when Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard was called for roughing while Columbus' Zenon Konopka was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct. The pair of penalties created more open ice with four-on-four hockey for two minutes, but neither club would be able to take advantage and grab the first lead of the game.
Phoenix would receive the first power play of the game when Columbus defenseman Adam Foote was sent to the box for roughing at 9:29 of the first. The Coyotes tried to revive their struggling power play with a new power play unit that featured forward Josh Gratton in front of the net. Even with the new unit, Phoenix was unable to get the puck into the Columbus goal, keeping the score tied at 0-0
Coyotes forward Jeremy Roenick raised the level of physical play with 7:30 to play in the period when he delivered a crushing hit on Blue Jackets' forward Anders Eriksson behind the Columbus net. Shortly after the hit by Roenick, a melee broke out in front of the Columbus bench. Phoenix defenseman Nick Boynton was the first Coyote to find himself throwing punches as he traded blows with the Blue Jackets' Jody Shelly. During the first altercation, Owen Nolan found himself in the middle of a disagreement with Konopka. After taking the high road and trying to get by without a fight, Nolan finally decided to vent his frustrations on Konopka, pounding him with a series of vintage Nolan punches. When everything was settled, all four fights would be five minutes for their actions, but Phoenix received an extra minor for roughing, giving Columbus the man-advantage.
A minute after the brawl, Columbus took a bench minor for too-many men on the ice, ending the power play. During the ensuing four-on-four play, the Coyotes would make the first mark on the scoreboard when Ed Jovanovski's blast from the point was deflected at the top of the Blue Jacket's crease by forward Steven Reinprecht; and sent past netminder Fredrik Norrena for a 1-0 lead.
The final minutes of the first would roll off the clock without any quality scoring chances for either team, keeping Phoenix on top, 1-0 after 20-minutes of play.
Phoenix extended their lead to 2-0, just over six minutes into the second period when captain Shane Doan blasted a slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Norrena on the stick side. Doan 's goal was his 18th of the season, moving him into a first place tie on the team with Yanic Perreault.
The Coyotes would return to the power play at 8:04 of the second when Konopka was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference. With the extra attacker, the Coyotes flooded the Columbus net with shots and followed up with bodies heading to the top of the crease looking for a rebound. However, Norrena would do his best to control his rebounds and eventually was able to kill off the minor penalty without incident.
Just over midway through the stanza, George Laraque led a two-on-one rush into the Columbus zone with Mike Zigomanis. Laraque made a great play to saucer a pass over to Zigomanis, who just redirected the puck on net and past Norrena for a 3-0 Coyotes lead.
Columbus put themselves back in a tough position at 14:15 of the period when Anders Eriksson made his way to the box to serve a hooking penalty. Once again, Phoenix would be able to set up in the offensive zone, but were unable to capture the elusive power play goal.
Despite being unable to add to their lead with the extra attacker, the Coyotes had made their mark during the second period and headed to the locker room after two periods of play with a three-goal lead.
The Coyotes began the third period on the penalty kill as Roenick received a tripping penalty late in the second period. Trailing by three goals, the Blue Jackets' were desperate to find some sort of offense and creep back into the game, but the Phoenix defense and the play of Curtis Joseph kept the Coyotes ahead by three as they returned to full strength.
Play would open up again at 7:29 of the third when minor infractions to Phoenix defenseman Travis Roche (holding) and Blue Jackets center Gilbert Brule (high-sticking) resulted in a brief stint of four-on-four action. The Coyotes were able to exploit the extra open ice and register a series of shots on goal, but Norrena was able to see the puck clearly and keep Phoenix form adding to their lead.
With eight-and-a-half minutes left in the third, Joseph came up big again when Blue Jackets' blueliner Bryan Berard released a wrist shot from the left face-off circle that somehow made it's way through a screen before Joseph was able to make the stop and hold on for a whistle.
Columbus' hopes for a third period comeback all but came to an end when Anders Eriksson was escorted to the penalty box at 14:54 of the period for roughing. The Coyotes wouldn't increase their lead, but they did take two valuable minutes off the clock before returning to five-on-five hockey.
Over the course of the final minutes of regulation, the Coyotes defense took control of the game, keeping the Columbus forwards away from the net and allowing the Coyotes to capture a pivotal victory to start their four-game road trip.