Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Atlanta - Johan Hedberg
On Friday night, the Phoenix Coyotes extended their winning streak to a season-high five games as Yanic Perreault's overtime goal, helped give the Coyotes a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Through the first four minutes of contest, the Coyotes and Thrashers mirrored each other in their relentless pursuit of the puck and suffocating defense. The end result was a series of breakouts from the defensive zone that ended before quality-scoring chances could take place.
At 4:33 of the first, the Coyotes were handed the first penalty of the game when defenseman Derek Morris was sent to the box for roughing. Just as they have done over the course of their current four-game winning streak, the Phoenix penalty-killing unit succeeded in shutting down the Atlanta power play and keeping the pressure off goaltender Curtis Joseph, allowing the Coyotes to return to full strength.
With just under nine minute to play in the first, the Thrashers broke out of their own zone and carried the puck into the Phoenix end where Atlanta center Glen Metropolit wound up and blasted a shot on goal that Joseph buried in his mid-section and held for the whistle.
Following a whistle near the 13-minute mark, Coyotes center Joel Perrault and Atlanta's Braydon Coburn engaged in a minor scuffle resulting in minor roughing penalties for both, resulting in four-on-four hockey.
Just 26-seconds into the four-on-four play, the Thrashers took advantage of the open ice when forward Marian Hossa circled around the Coyotes net and placed a shot between the glove hand and left leg pad of Joseph for a 1-0 Atlanta lead.
Two minutes later, Atlanta would strike again when Ilya Kovalchuk took a pass from his own blueline, raced through the neutral zone, into the Coyotes end and around defenseman Matt Jones; before snapping a wrist shot top shelf to make it 2-0.
The final minutes of the opening period would run off the clock without incident as the Coyotes headed to the locker room after 20-minutes of play trailing the Thrashers by two.
The Coyotes shrugged off the first period struggles and began the second period on the attack. Their efforts would pay off just 1:15 into the period when captain Shane Doan raced down the left side and fired a wrist shot on goal that beat Hedberg high to the glove side for his 10th tally of the season and making it a 2-1 game.
However the action wouldn't stop with Doan's goal as the Thrashers came right back with a rush into the Phoenix zone, only to be met stopped by Joseph and the Coyotes defense.
As the game approached the three-minute mark a pair of great plays at both ends of the ice would allow the Thrashers to regain the two-goal lead. The play started deep in the Atlanta end when Hedberg made a point blank stop on Steven Reinprecht in the slot, sending the puck back up ice where the Thrashers sent a lead pass to Hossa who let a shot go from a steep angle that somehow slid through the crease, under "Cujo" and into the goal for a 3-1 advantage.
At 11:14 of the second, the Coyotes penalty kill unit was summoned back to the ice when defenseman Travis Roche was assessed a roughing penalty. Despite being shorthanded, the Coyotes kept the puck out of their end and quelled the Thrashers offensive attack.
Phoenix would get a chance to cut into the two-goal deficit late in the period as Atlanta, who already had Brad Larsen serving a hooking penalty, found themselves two men down with 1:36 to play when Grant Exelby was sent to the box for cross-checking. However, even with a brief five-on-three power play, the Coyotes were unable to move closer to tying the game as the second period came to a close.
Just as the Coyotes had done at the start of the second period, the Thrashers would strike early in the third period when left wing Jon Sim snapped a shot from the left face-off circle that beat Joseph on the strong side to extend the Atlanta lead to 4-1.
But Phoenix wouldn't let the Thrashers build on the momentum as they brought their offensive attack back into the Atlanta zone. Then at 2:14 of the period, Yanic Perreault made a smart play when he chased the puck down behind the net and sent a centering pass to Ladislav Nagy who was waiting at the top of the crease. Upon receiving the puck, Nagy made a perfect deflection, sending the puck past Hedberg and putting the Coyotes within two goals of tying the game.
At 5:05 of the third, the Thrashers would return to the man-advantage when Phoenix blueliner Ed Jovanovski was sent to the box for roughing. Atlanta would continue to struggle with the extra attacker as the Coyotes defense shut down passing lanes and kept the pressure contained to the perimeter until Jovanovski could return to the ice.
The Coyotes would find themselves back on the power play at 8:57 of the third when Atlanta's Steve Rucchin took an interference penalty. After four unsuccessful attempts with the extra attacker, the Phoenix power play would finally be rewarded for their efforts at 10:40 of the stanza when Travis Roche unleashed a heavy slap shot from the point that deflected off Shane Doan in front of the net and sailed into the net to close the gap to 4-3.
Phoenix would keep the pressure on and finally tie the game with 6:39 to play in regulation when a Coyotes shot on goal from the right point, was stopped by Hedberg, resulting in a rebound to the left side of the goal. Owen Nolan then skated to the puck and delivered a shot into the open net to tie the game at 4-4. Coyotes defensemen Keith Ballard and Derek Morris recorded the assists on Nolan's 10th goal of the season.
Just when it appeared that the third period was coming to a close, Phoenix forward Mike Zigomanis took a delay-of-game penalty when his clearing attempt sailed over the glass and into the stands. As a result, the Thrashers would spend the final 51-seconds of the third with the man-advantage. Fortunately, the Coyotes were able to hold off the Atlanta attack as regulation ended with the score tied at 4-4.
The Coyotes began the extra frame still killing off the penalty to Zigomanis, and after returning to full strength, turned their attention to grabbing the extra point.
Following a series of unproductive offensive rushes by both teams, the Coyotes took advantage of a collapsed Atlanta unit as Zbynek Michalek sent a long lead pass to Yanic Perreault who entered the Thrashers zone on a breakaway. As Perreault approached the net, Hedberg rushed from his crease and tried to poke-check the puck away from Perreault, but the Coyotes center was able to keep control, elude Hedberg and slide the puck into the empty net for his 13th goal of the season; and in the process give Phoenix their fifth consecutive victory with a 5-4 win over the Thrashers.