Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff McIntosh
Phoenix - Mike Morrison
Calgary - Miikka Kiprusoff
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes dropped a 6-1 contest to their Western Conference rivals, the Calgary Flames.
Early in the first period, both clubs showed they weren't afraid to raise their level of physical play as Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf delivered a big hit on Coyotes forward Owen Nolan, sending the power forward to the ice. Without hesitation, Phoenix's Joel Perrault skated over to take exception to Phaneuf's hit, but it was Josh Gratton and Flames forward Darren McCarty, who tried to settle the dispute between themselves as they dropped the gloves along the boards. In the end it was Gratton and McCarty, who would field the only penalties from the incident.
Phoenix wouldn't have t wait long to get their first power play of the game as Phaneuf was called for interference at 5:15 of first. On their first man-advantage of the game, the Coyotes were able to get a pair of shots on goal, but Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was able to keep the puck out of the net to keep the game scoreless.
Calgary would find themselves in even worse penalty trouble later in the period when the Flames, who already had Alex Tanguay in the penalty box for holding-the-stick, saw veteran defenseman Andrei Zyuzin called for hooking at 10:07 of the first, resulting in 42-seconds of five-on-three hockey for the Coyotes.
Skating with a two-man advantage, Phoenix nearly took the first lead of the game when Ed Jovanovski recorded two shots on goal in a matter of seconds that nearly solved Kiprusoff, but came up just short. Following Jovanovski's shots, the Coyotes struggled to find open shooting lanes and were unable to pull the Flames defenders out of position, allowing Calgary to kill off the penalties and return to full strength.
The Coyotes would fall victim to their own penalty trouble in the second half of the opening period when Fredrik Sjostrom (hooking) and Enver Lisin (slashing) took penalties within 45-seconds of each other, resulting in 1:15 of five-on-three hockey for the Flames. Calgary immediately started moving the puck around the perimeter of the Phoenix zone before former Coyote Jamie Lundmark fed a pass to Calgary's Chuck Kobasew at the right side of the net, who then swept the puck past goaltender Mike Morrison for a 1-0 lead.
Before the penalty to Lisin could expire, the Coyotes found themselves down by a pair of skaters when Jovanovski headed to the box for hooking at 15:11 of the period. The Phoenix penalty killers would be able to kill off the penalty to Lisin, but the Flames were able to capitalize on Jovanovski's penalty with 4:14 to play in the first when Kristian Huselius grabbed a rebound at the left side of the Coyotes goal and beat Morrison for a 2-0 advantage.
Despite falling behind by a pair of goals, Phoenix continued to fight back and their determination would pay off with 2:25 left in the frame as Owen Nolan followed up Mike Comrie's shot and backhanded a rebound at the left side of the Flames net past Kiprusoff to make it a 2-1 game. Defenseman Nick Boynton recorded the only assist on Nolan's second goal of the season.
Both clubs would run out the clock on the remainder of opening period as the clubs headed to the locker room after 20 minutes of play, with Calgary holding a 2-1 lead.
The Coyotes began the second period on the power play as Calgary's Rhett Warrener was assessed a hooking penalty at the end of the first period. With the Flames shorthanded, the Coyotes offense set up shop in Calgary zone and recorded a pair of shots on goal, but Kiprusoff was able to see the puck well and stay in position to preserve the one-goal lead.
It appeared that the Coyotes had caught a break at 5:14 of the second when Calgary's Jeff Friesen was sent to the box for tripping Phoenix defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. However, when Coyotes rookie Keith Yandle was unable to control a bouncing puck in the neutral zone, an opportunistic Tony Amonte grabbed the puck and skated in alone on Morrison, where he sent a wrist shot through the five-hole, giving the Flames a 3-1 lead.
In an effort to provide a spark for his club, Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky pulled Morrison from the net following Amonte's goal, sending Curtis Joseph on to the ice for the seventh consecutive game.
The Flames continued to flirt with danger as they traveled back to the penalty box at 10:27l of the period with former Coyote forward Daymond Langkow was called for high-sticking. Phoenix would again register an early shot on goal with the man-advantage, but failed to produce a constant attack as errant passes kept forcing the Coyotes to chase down pucks in the neutral zone, while at the same time killing off the penalty to Langkow.
With just 2:46 to play in the second period, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded when Mike Comrie was whistled for holding-the-stick. However the Phoenix penalty killing unit would rise to the occasion as they kept the Flames offensive attack off-balance and unable to get the better of "Cujo" as the second period came to an end with the Coyotes trailing by two goals.
Early in the third period, the Flames were able to add to their lead when sniper Jarome Iginla gained control of a turnover by the Coyotes and snapped a wrist shot past Joseph at 3:03 of the period to extend the Calgary lead to 4-1.
As the period neared the seven-minute mark, the Flames created a pair of scoring chances when Langkow made his way past defenseman Derek Morris in the Coyotes zone an d broke in alone on Joseph. While Langkow's shot was stopped by the right leg of Joseph, the on-ice officials awarded the Flames a penalty shot as a result of Morris' actions. On the penalty shot, Langkow tried to pick the corner on the strong side of Joseph, but was only able to hit the shoulder pad of the Phoenix goaltender, keeping the puck out of the net.
Less than a minute after Langkow's failed penalty shot, the Flames made it a 5-1 contest when Joseph made great stop on Matthew Lombardi by going into the splits deep in his crease. However, Marcus Nilson was on the heels of the play and tipped the rebound over the outstretched leg of Joseph for his second goal of the season.
With 7:04 to play in the game, the Coyotes run of bad bounces continued as Langkow's centering pass to Calgary defenseman Roman Hamrlik at the top of the crease, deflected off Hamrlik's skate and past Joseph for the Flames sixth goal of the contest.
Over the final four minutes of play, the Coyotes would make four more trips to the penalty box, but the Phoenix penalty killing unit would band together and keep Calgary from adding to their lead as the final minutes slipped off the clock with the Coyotes dropping a 6-1 contest to the Calgary Flames.
Phoenix Coyotes Captain Shane Doan left Tuesday's game against the Flames with a sore back and did not return. He will be re- eval uated by the Coyotes medical staff on Wednesday.