Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Mike Ricci - (C) Shane Doan - (RW) Fredrik Sjostrom
(D) Nick Boynton - (D) Ed Jovanovski
DEVILS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Jay Pandolfo - (C) John Madden - (RW) Jamie Langenbrunner
(D) Colin White - (D) Brian Rafalski
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
New Jersey - Martin Brodeur
On Wednesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes turned in a dominating effort as they defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-1. With Coyotes Dave Scatchard and Ladislav Nagy having multiple point performances and a sound 14-save performance by Curtis Joseph, Phoenix was able to completely control the tempo of play from start to finish.
From the onset, it was clear that Wednesday's contest would be a defensive battle. The first shot of the game wouldn't come until the third shift, just over two-minutes in, setting the tone for a defense-first period
At 2:36 of the opening period, the Coyotes penalty-killing unit answered their first call of the night when Phoenix received a bench minor for having too-many-men on the ice. Oleg Saprykin served the minor infraction as the Coyotes defense easily kept the Devils form setting up offensively.
Following their unproductive power play, the Devils were pushed back on their heels by a strong Phoenix offensive attack. New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur made a trio of stops, including an impressive kick save with the left leg, to keep the Coyotes from taking the first lead of the game.
The Phoenix offense would get the chance to test out their power play at 6:25 of the first when Devils forward Jim Dowd was sent to the box for hooking. Unfortunately, the Coyotes would struggle to establish a serious offensive onslaught, registering only one shot on goal before New Jersey returned to full strength.
Near the halfway point of the first, the Devils returned to the penalty box, this time it was the actions of Scott Gomez (tripping) that would put New Jersey shorthanded. While the Coyotes would be held scoreless for a second consecutive power play, they were beginning to generate an offensive rhythm, signaling that a goal was on the horizon.
The Coyotes would find that long awaited goal at 13:17 of the first when Ladislav Nagy fought off a defender to move the puck up ice through the neutral zone, before dishing it off to Jeremy Roenick as he broke into the Devils zone. Once in the offensive end, Roenick carried himself toward the right hand boards to stretch out the New Jersey defense before sending a pass across ice to an open Derek Morris; whose wrist shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle beat Brodeur high over the glove for the 1-0 lead.
Late in the first, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek was call for high-sticking, giving the Devils their second power play of the period. Despite being shorthanded, the Coyotes dominated the final 1:18 of the period to keep the Devils off the scoreboard and head to the locker room after 20-minutes of play with a 1-0 lead.
The Devils would tie the game at 1-1 early in the second period when a scrum at the top of the Coyotes crease ended with the puck going off the skate of defenseman Keith Ballard and into the Phoenix goal. New Jersey forward John Madden was credited with the goal on the play.
The Coyotes wouldn't let the game remained tied for long as Dave Scatchard made a highlight deflection on a shot from Ed Jovanovski, which sailed over the glove hand of Brodeur, giving Phoenix a 2-1 advantage. Ladislav Nagy registered his second assist of the night on Scatchard's second goal of the season.
At 6:42 of the second, the Devils went back on the power play when Mike Ricci was called for holding. Just as they had done on their two previous tasks, the Coyotes penalty killing unit kept New Jersey's power play in-check and off the scoreboard. Just as he was release form the penalty box, Ricci was able to chase down a loose puck and blast a shot on net that was stopped by Brodeur and covered for a whistle.
New Jersey appeared to catch a break at 10:01 of the second when Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris's clearing attempt sailed over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty against Phoenix. However, just 37-seconds into the Devils power play a slow-rolling puck along the left hand boards of the New Jersey zone was chased down by Scatchard, passed to a streaking Owen Nolan in the slot and slid underneath the back of Brodeur for a 3-1 Coyotes lead. Scatchard and Michalek received assists on Nolan's short-handed tally.
With 3:21 to play in the third, Oleg Saprykin headed to the penalty box for roughing, but the Coyotes penalty kill continued to make the Devils power play appear clumsy and disorganized as they shut down the man-advantage and waited out the remainder of the second period.
As the third period got under way, the Devils continued to struggle to get shots through traffic allowing Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph to remain in position and make routine saves from the perimeter.
At 4:34 of the period, Phoenix forward Mike Zigomanis was called for goaltender-interference, giving New Jersey their sixth power play of the evening. Even with the extra attacker, the Devils could only manage a pair of shots on goal, both of which were quickly turned aside by Joseph to preserve the Coyotes two-goal lead.
Coyotes right wing Georges Laraque nearly put Phoenix on top by three at the eight minute mark of the third when he and Patrick Fischer entered the Devils zone on a two-on-one; once Fischer pulled the lone New Jersey defender to the right of the net, Laraque made a great move to his backhand, sending Brodeur to the ice. Laraque tried to lift a backhand into the goal, but the puck deflected off the body of the Devils defender at the side of the net, keeping the puck out.
The remainder of the period featured the Coyotes doing exactly what they had done all night, suffocating the Devils offense and forcing turnovers to create offensive opportunities.
Even in the final minute of the period, the Coyotes stifling defense kept New Jersey from being able to pull Brodeur for the extra attacker. As a result, Phoenix held on for an impressive 3-1 win over the Devils.