By: Chad Lynch
Photos by Norm Hall
On Saturday, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for the final time this season by the score of 5-2 at Glendale Arena.
It didn't take long for the Coyotes to get rolling on Saturday night as a dump-in to the Anaheim zone allowed Coyotes right wing Mike Johnson to win a race to the puck and feather a pass over to Mike Comrie, who was all alone in the slot. Once he received the pass, Comrie pulled Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to his left before flipping the puck back over to the right, over the Giguere's goal stick and into the net for a 1-0 Phoenix lead.
In addition to scoring the first goal of the game, the Coyotes also went on the first power play as Anaheim defenseman Sean O'Donnell was sent to the box at 4:53 of the first for hooking. Phoenix would create some quality shots on the man-advantage, but would fail to bring the pressure in close on the Ducks goal, allowing Giguere to keep the Coyotes lead at 1-0.
The Ducks nearly tied the game with 12-minutes left in the first when a two-on-one by Anaheim, saw Andy McDonald tip a cross-ice pass just outside the left goal post.
Phoenix would make their first trip to the penalty box at 11:21 of the period when defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was called for hooking. Anaheim went right to work on the man-advantage working the puck down low to the Phoenix net and firing five shots on goal through the firs 45 seconds of the infraction. While the Coyotes were doing all they could to withstand the pressure of the Ducks, Anaheim would eventually capitalize with the extra attacker as Scott Niedermayer's shot from the top of the crease, beat goaltender David Leneveu at 12:29 of the first, to tie the game at 1-1.
As the period was winding down, the Coyotes took their second penalty if the period when Fredrik Sjostrom was assessed a tripping call at 18:52 of the first. The 1:08 on the clock would prove to be enough time for the Ducks to capitalize as veteran sniper Teemu Selanne blasted a slap shot from the right face-off circle at 19:35 of the period, that picked the top corner of the Phoenix net and gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead after 20-minutes of play.
The Coyotes began the second period just as they did the first, scoring early as Oleg Kvasha's shot from the right side of the net at 1:48 of the first beat Giguere on the glove side to tie the game at 2-2. As soon as the puck was in the net, an Anaheim defender swept it out of the net, causing the on-ice official closest to the play to waive the goal off, but after a short review from the officials up stairs, the play was ruled a goal.
Following the early goal, the Coyotes built on their momentum with a power play, the result of a delay-of-game call on Anaheim's Vitaly Vishnevski for flipping the puck over the glass from within his own zone. With the power play, Phoenix hounded the Ducks goal with traffic and shots that tested Giguere, but were unable to give the Coyotes back the lead as the penalty to Vishnevski expired.
Anaheim did a good job of holding off the Phoenix attack early and they began to push back at 4:19 of the second when a two-on-one rush by the Ducks saw rookie Corey Perry fire a shot from the right-hand boards that beat LeNeveu to give Anaheim back the lead at 3-2.
Just under a minute later, the Ducks struck again, this time when a pass from Andy McDonald, at the top of the zone, was tipped at the top of the crease by Selanne for his 33rd goal of the season and second of the game to give Anaheim a 4-2 lead.
At 9:56 of the second, the Coyotes raised the level of physicality when rookie Josh Gratton, dropped the gloves with Anaheim heavyweight Todd Fedoruk in the Phoenix zone. Gratton owned Fedoruk through the first three-quarters of the bout, landing big right hands and keeping Fedoruk off-balance with constant jabs with his left hand while he tried to set-up the over hand right. Both combatants received five minutes fighting majors for their efforts.
With just 42-seconds left in the middle stanza, the Coyotes went back on the man-advantage as Anaheim's Todd Fedoruk was called for goaltender interference. Phoenix wouldn't be able to take advantage off the extra attacker before the end of the period, but they did carry 1:23 of power play time over to start the third as the two clubs skated to the locker rooms after two periods of play with Anaheim leading 4-2.
Phoenix started the third period with over minute of power play time carried over, but the Coyotes simply couldn't generate enough pressure on the Giguere to cut the Anaheim lead to one as the penalty to Fedoruk expired and the Ducks returned to full strength.
Once back at full strength, the Ducks went on the attack as they crashed the Coyotes goal and pushed LeNeveu to his limit as he raced from post-to-post to get in front of pucks and keep the Coyotes within striking distance.
With 9:39 to play in the third, Anaheim defenseman Sean O'Donnell made his second trip to the penalty box. But the Coyotes power play unit was unable to penetrate the defense of the Ducks penalty killers as Anaheim returned to full strength without consequence.
With seven minutes to play in the game, LeNeveu made a great toe save as he slid across the crease to stop a drive on the doorstep. But seconds after the big save by LeNeveu, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded when defenseman Paul Mara was called for holding at 6:58 of the third. The Anaheim power play would only last 28 seconds as Francois Beauchemin notched his seventh goal of the season with 6:29 to play in the game to put Anaheim on top 5-2.
The final minutes of the third period would tick off the clock without incident as the Coyotes fell to the Ducks for the seventh and final time this season by a score of 5-2.