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COYOTES DROP 6-3 DECISION TO COLORADO

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
By: Chad Lynch

Photo Credit: Norm Hall

COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Jeff Taffe - (C) Steven Reinprecht - (RW) Shane Doan
(D) Matt Jones - (D) Travis Roche

AVALANCHE STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Brett McLean - (C) Paul Stastny - (RW) Milan Hejduk
(D) Kurt Sauer - (D) Brett Clark

STARTING GOALTENDERS
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Colorado - Peter Budaj

On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes battled back from an early deficit to tie the game, but ended up falling to the Colorado Avalanche by the final score of 6-3.

Through the opening minutes of the game, Colorado attacked the Phoenix net, in an attempt to grab an early lead, but goaltender Curtis Joseph and the Coyotes defense were having none of it as they turned aside the Avalanche shots to keep the game scoreless.

With just under 12-minutes remaining in the first, Phoenix received a scare as defenseman Keith Ballard blocked a shot on a Colorado power play with his hand, causing the sophomore blueliner to head to the bench in discomfort. Fortunately Ballard would return later in the period.

With forward Josh Gratton already serving a hooking penalty, Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris was sent to the box at 8:03 of the first for holding, giving the Av's 1:45 of five-on-three hockey.

The Coyotes would be able to kill off the remainder of Gratton's penalty and the majority of Morris', but at 9:42 of the period, with just 21-seconds left on the Colorado power play, rookie sniper Paul Stastny flipped a shot past Joseph, extending his current point-scoring streak to 20-games.

Less than three minutes later, at 12:36 of the first, Colorado captain Joe Sakic made it a 2-0 game when he came in from the left side, worked Zbynek Michalek back towards the net and released a quick wrist shot that beat Joseph low to the stick side. Ken Klee and John-Michael Liles recorded the assists on Sakic's 29th goal of the season.

Phoenix would begin their comeback late in the opening period as Bill Thomas let a shot go from the left face-off circle that whizzed past the blocker of Colorado netminder Peter Budaj and into the net for his fourth tally of the season. Matt Jones and Fredrick Sjostrom recorded their fourth and ninth assists of the season, respectively, on Thomas' goal.

Shortly after the goal by Thomas, Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton was sent to the box for hooking, leaving Phoenix to spend the remainder of the first on the penalty kill. But the Coyotes defense went to work and kept the Avalanche off the scoreboard for the remainder of the first.

At 5:07 of the second period, the Coyotes were able to tie the game at 2-2 when Niko Kapanen deflected the puck with his skate, over to Shane Doan at the top of the slot, where Doan one-timed a blast past Budaj for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.

Colorado went back on the power play at 9:45 of the second when Coyotes rookie Daniel Carcillo received a terrible holding call. Fortunately, the Phoenix penalty-killing unit was able to kill off the infraction without incident and return to full strength.

The Coyotes continuous offensive pressure paid off at 13:57 of the second when Phoenix took their first lead of the game; as Carcillo shot the puck from the left side of the net that trickled toward the goal line before Jeremy Roenick was able to come in and push it into the net, just before an Avalanche defenseman could clear it form the crease.

However, the Phoenix lead last just 25-seconds as Joe Sakic scored his second goal of the night on a snap shot from the left side that beat Joseph on the strong side.

Colorado's Ken Klee was assessed a minor penalty for tripping at 18:58 of the second, and while the Coyotes would be unable to regain the lead heading into the intermission, they would begin the third period with 58-seconds of power play time left on the clock.

Early in the final period, the Avalanche re-took the lead when Ben Guite let a shot go on from the right side on a breakaway that beat Joseph on the glove side, to make it a 4-3 game.

The Coyotes tried desperately to even the score as the period continued, as they delivered shot after shot on goal, but Budaj refused to give an inch as he turned aside the Coyotes advances to preserve the one-goal lead.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third, Colorado struck again, this time it was Brad Richardson who found the back of the net for his 11th tally of the season.

The Avalanche would add one last goal 25-seconds later, at 18:09 of the third when Paul Stastny scored his second goal of the game and 25th of the year on a feed from Brett McLean to make it a 6-3 game.

Following Stastny's second goal of the night, an altercation broke out with Carcillo dropping the gloves with Colorado forward Mark Rycroft. Both would receive five-minute majors for their actions along wig with Phoenix defenseman Travis Roche, who received two-minutes for roughing.

The final minute of the game would run off the clock without incident or further scoring as the Coyotes fell to the Avalanche by the final score of 6-3.

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