Photo Credit: Debora Robinson/Anaheim Ducks
& AP/Branimir Kvartuc
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Anaheim - Jean-Sebastien Giguere
On Sunday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell short in their comeback as they dropped a 6-4 decision at the hands of the Pacific Division leading, Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes opened the game displaying an offensive mindset as they took the opening face-off and rushed into the Anaheim zone with full force in an attempt to capture the first goal of the game.
Phoenix's early pressure would be rewarded at 1:55 of the first when Ducks forward George Parros was called for hooking, giving the Coyotes the first power play of the night. Phoenix would take full advantage of the extra attacker at 3:09 of the first when defenseman Ed Jovanovski blasted a low, hard slap shot from just inside the blueline that beat Anaheim netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere, for a 1-0 lead. Jovanovski's goal was his fourth of the season with assists going to Owen Nolan and Yanic Perreault.
The period continued with both clubs trying out-work their opponent in the offensive end as both clubs made a series of trips up ice, but ultimately were unable to find the back of the net.
Anaheim would get their first turn on the man-advantage at 7:34 of the period when Jovanovski was called for cross-checking. The Ducks top power play unit took the ice and needed only 19-seconds to capitalize as Teemu Selanne dug a loose puck out of a scrum around the right side of the net and fed a pass through the crease to a wide-open Andy McDonald, who tapped it into the open net, tying the game at 1-1. Defenseman Chris Pronger recorded his team-leading 16th assist on the goal by McDonald.
Less than a minute after the Ducks tied the game, they gave the Coyotes an opportunity to re-take the lead when Parros made another trip to the penalty box, this time for executing a trip on Phoenix forward Enver Lisin. Unfortunately, the Coyotes were unable to turn their offensive zone pressure into the go-ahead goal they were looking for as Anaheim killed off the penalty and returned to full strength.
With just over six minutes remaining the first, the Ducks jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck back into the Phoenix zone where Chris Kunitz sent a backhand shot at the net that forced Joseph to slide to his left to make the stop. As a result, the puck slid back to the top of the crease where McDonald, who was closely following the play, tapped the puck into the Coyotes net for his second goal of the game.
Over the course of the final minutes of the opening frame, the Ducks intensified their offensive pressure, but the Phoenix defense played perfectly, especially within their own end as they kept the puck away from the net until the buzzer sounded, marking the end of the first.
The Coyotes began the second period on the penalty kill as Ladislav Nagy served a slashing penalty, which was handed out at the conclusion of the first period. Anaheim's power play unit again set up in the Phoenix zone as Selanne made a series of passes in an attempt to spread out the Coyotes defense. After moving the puck around the zone and failing to register a shot on goal, Selanne carried the puck from behind the Phoenix net, where he feathered a pass over to Kunitz at the right side of the net. Kunitz quickly snapped the puck past the blocker of Joseph and into the goal, giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead.
At 7:10 of the second, the Coyotes would again find themselves shorthanded, this time for having too-many men on the ice. George Laraque served the penalty for Phoenix while the penalty-killing unit faced off against an Anaheim power play unit that had converted on both of their previous opportunities. The Ducks game plan didn't change as they worked the puck around the zone, but the Coyotes defense did a great job of closing off the shooting lanes and keeping the Anaheim attack stuck in neutral.
After successfully killing off the bench minor, the Coyotes tried to build on the momentum and cut into the Ducks two-goal lead.
Phoenix's pressure would help the Coyotes cut the deficit in half at 11:56 of the stanza when Yanic Perreault slid a puck from the top of the crease into the Anaheim to make it 3-2 game. Perreault's goal was his sixth of the season and his ninth point in the last seven game.
Less than a minute later, the Duck regained the two-goal lead when Chris Kunitz's shot from a steep angle on the left side, somehow found a way past Joseph, giving Anaheim a 4-2 lead. Selanne and McDonald each recorded assists on Kunitz's second goal of the game, giving both players their fourth point of the night.
Just when it appeared that the period would end with the Coyotes trailing b two, Anaheim was handed a bench minor for too-many men on the ice with 41 seconds left in the period. Phoenix won the ensuing face-off in the offensive zone where Zbynek Michalek sent a pass across the ice to Jovanovski at the right point, where he fired the puck at the net; fortunately, Laraque was camped in front of the net and managed to tip the puck past Giguere and close the gap to 4-3 as the second period of play came to a close.
Having cut the Ducks advantage to one goal, the Coyotes continued to pressure the Anaheim defense early in the third period. After a remarkable individual effort by Oleg Saprykin to chase down what would have been an icing on Phoenix, the Coyotes capitalized when Laraque's centering pass from the left corner, connected with Mike Zigomanis at the top of the crease. Zigomanis blasted the puck past Giguere to tie the game at 4-4.
The Coyotes momentum would be put on hold at 7:18 of the period as forward Dave Scatchard was sent to the penalty box for holding. Anaheim tried desperately to take advantage of the Phoenix penalty, but a series of key blocks, saves and clearing passes kept the Ducks form scoring their third power play goal.
While Phoenix was able to successfully kill off the Scatchard penalty, they would be unable to completely contain Anaheim's attack. Just three seconds after the Coyotes returned to full strength, Selanne's shot from the left face-off circle was tripped at the top of the crease by Kunitz, redirecting the puck through the legs of Joseph and giving the Ducks their second lead of the night, at 5-4. Kunitz' go-ahead goal was his 13th of the season and third of the night, marking the first hat trick of his NHL career.
With 4:17 to play in the third, Scatchard made his second trip to the box in a span of three minutes as he was assessed a minor penalty for hooking. Knowing that a two goal lead this late in the game would greatly hurt the Coyotes chances on mounting a comeback, the Phoenix penalty killing unit turned in a brilliant effort; led by Joseph who made a pair of saves before veteran center Jeremy Roenick made a great individual effort to carry the puck out of the Phoenix zone and keep it buried in the Ducks zone for the remainder of the penalty.
The Coyotes tried to tie the game in the final minute of the third when Joseph was pulled form the net in favor of the extra attacker. However, Giguere made a big stop on Saprykin during a scrum in front of the Anaheim net, ending the Coyotes offensive threat.
The Ducks would add an empty net goal from rob Niedermayer with two seconds left on the clock, as the Coyotes dropped a 6-4 decision to Anaheim.
On Sunday night, Yanic Perreault continued his hot streak with two points (1 goal, 1 assist) and extended his current goal-scoring streak to a career best, five games. Perreault had five previous streaks of four consecutive games with a goal, the last taking place in March of 2004. Perreault has recorded nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) in eight games with the Coyotes this season.