Photo Credit: Getty Images/Brian Bahr
The Phoenix Coyotes began Monday's game showing absolutely no rust after the two days off as they initiated an offensive attack early which was highlighted by forward Jamie Lundmark carrying the puck up the left hand boards, dropping a pass off to Ladislav Nagy at the top of the left face-off circle in the Colorado zone, who then fed a perfect pass to Shane Doan in the slot. Once he got the puck, Doan blasted a one-timer into the top corner of the net, past Avalanche netminder Vitaly Kolesnik for a 1-0 Coyotes lead just 31 seconds into the contest.
Once they established the early lead, the Coyotes only turned up the pressure on the Avalanche and at 3:20 of the opening period, Phoenix increased their lead to 2-0 when Doan brought the puck into the Colorado zone, and sent a wrist shot on goal that seemed to catch Kolesnik off guard as he paused for a moment and was unable to react t the shot before it entered the net. Immediately following Doan's second goal of the contest, Avalanche Head Coach Joel Quenneville pulled Kolesnik from the net in favor of Peter Budaj.
Colorado forward Marek Svatos was given a double-minor for cross-checking at 7:27 of the first when he hit Phoenix defenseman Keith Ballard in the mouth with the shaft of his stick. Shortly after the penalty to Svatos began, defenseman Paul Mara was sent to the box for tripping, pitting the two clubs at four-on-four.
Despite not having the man-advantage, the Coyotes returned to the offensive zone when Mike Johnson carried the puck through the neutral zone, dropped a pass for defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who fired a quick shot from just inside the blueline that beat Budaj high on the glove side for a 3-0 Phoenix lead.
Following Michalek's sixth goal of the season, the Avalanche began to climb back into the game as Joe Sakic powered his way into the Coyotes zone, made his way around Geoff Sanderson and slid a wrist shot through the legs of Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph to cut the lead to 3-1.
Just over a minute later, at 9:20 of the first, Rob Blake's one-timer from the slot, beat Joseph over the left shoulder to trim the Coyotes lead to 3-2.
As quickly as the Coyotes jumped out t a 3-0 lead, the Avalanche fought all the way back as a goal by Joe Sakic with 3:35 left in the first, tied the game at 3-3. The six goal first period marked the largest, combined offensive period of the season for the Coyotes. Before the officials dropped the puck following Sakic's second goal of the period, Phoenix Head Coach Rick Tocchet made a goaltending change of his own as Curtis Joseph was pulled and Brian Boucher took his spot in the Coyotes' crease.
With 2:45 to go in the period, Boucher made a great save of Alex Tanguay as the Avalanche forward broke in on the Phoenix goal all alone and tried to stuff the puck in on the short side, but was turned away.
Coyotes forward Fredrik Sjostrom was sent to the penalty box for holding with 57 seconds left in the period, giving Colorado a late power play. But the Coyotes penalty-killing unit stopped the bleeding as the first period came to an end tied at 3-3.
Phoenix began the second stanza with over a minute left on the penalty to Sjostrom. Just as they had done in the last two games, the Coyotes committed to defensive play when shorthanded and were able to return to full strength still tied at 3-3.
At 4:35 of the period, the Avalanche went back on the power play when Mike Ricci was called for hooking. Seconds into the Ricci penalty, Colorado broke in on Boucher and got two point-blank shots on net, but weren't able to get the puck over the goal line. With 14:32 left in period, the Avalanche appeared to have taken their first lead of the game when Andrew Brunette was credited with a goal on the power play. However, after careful review by the video replay officials, the goal was disallowed after footage clearly showed that Brunette had directed the puck into the net with a distinct kicking motion, therefore keeping the game tied at 3-3. Even after the goal was disallowed, Phoenix still had 50 seconds of Ricci's penalty left to kill and they did so by keeping the Avalanche from getting set-up in front of the net as the Coyotes returned to full strength.
With 10:34 left in the second, the Coyotes got their first taste of the man-advantage in the period as Colorado's Brad May was sent to the box for hooking. With 1:18 left in the penalty to May, the Avalanche were put on the wrong end of a five-on-three when Patrice Brisebois was sent to the box for holding. Colorado did an excellent job of keeping the Coyotes pressure contained to the perimeter as they were able to set-up offensively, but couldn't get enough pucks through to Budaj to find the back of the net.
Shortly after the penalty expired, the Coyote finally found the offense they were looking for when Budaj kicked out a rebound to a breaking Geoff Sanderson, who fired the puck past the diving netminder for a 4-3 Phoenix lead.
With a little over six-minutes left in the second, the Coyotes appeared to re-take a two goal lead when a scrum in front of the Avalanche goal resulted in the puck heading into the net. But the on-ice official waived off the tally as he had blown the whistle after losing sight of the loose puck before it entered the net.
The Coyotes went back on the penalty kill with 4:25 left when Zbynek Michalek was forced to apply a hook on Tanguay to prevent a Colorado breakaway. Once again the Phoenix penalty killing unit was at the top of their game as the Avalanche failed to register a single shot on goal, returning Michalek to the ice with the Coyotes holding onto a 4-3 advantage.
For the second consecutive period, the Coyotes took a penalty in the final minute of play, this time Boyd Devereaux was sent to the box for hooking. Just as thy had done in the opening period of play, the Coyotes refused to give up a goal in the final minute of the period, as they skated to the locker rooms after 40-minutes of play, with a 4-3 lead.
The final period began with the Coyotes still killing off the late penalty to Devereaux, which saw the Avalanche flood the Phoenix net with shots, but Boucher stood stall in the net, to hold on to the one-goal lead.
Shortly after the penalty to Devereaux expired, Colorado's Marek Svatos tied the game for Colorado when he go a hold of a rebound at the right side of the net and slid a shot under the outstretched blocker of Boucher to make it a 4-4 game.
Phoenix would get a chance to re-take the lead when Colorado's Bob Boughner was called for hooking at 3:47 of the third. Once again, Phoenix was able to set-up in the Avalanche end, but had trouble getting enough pressure on net to score the go-ahead-goal as the game remained tied at 4-4.
With 12:21 to play in the third, the Avalanche went back on the man-advantage when Jamie Lundmark was assessed a minor penalty for high-sticking. With 17 seconds left in the penalty to Lundmark, the Coyotes found themselves down by two skaters when Denis Gauthier's clearing attempt from his own zone sailed high over the glass and into the crowd, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty. Fortunately the Coyotes killed off the final seconds of Lundmark's infraction, but would only get to skate at four-on-five for a few seconds as Boyd Devereaux was called for hooking at 10:34 of the third, giving Colorado another 47 seconds of five-on-three hockey. Phoenix killed off a good portion of the two-man disadvantage, but just before the penalty to Gauthier expired, Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk took a feed from the left side, through the crease and slammed it into the Coyotes net to give Colorado a 5-4 lead.
The Coyotes tried to register the equalizer as the third period continued but Budaj was sharp in net and the contest entered the final two minutes with Colorado clinging to a one-goal lead.
With 1:05 left in the game, Phoenix was given a late power play as Colorado's Brett Clark was called for holding. To give themselves a two-man advantage, the Coyotes pulled Boucher from the net for the extra attacker, but with 46 seconds left, the Avs' Ian Laperriere fired the puck the length of the ice and into the empty Coyotes net for a 6-4 Colorado lead.
Phoenix again pulled Boucher once play resumed, but once again, this time with 14 seconds left on the clock, Colorado's Karlis Skrastins sent the puck into the open goal for a 7-4 lead.
The final seconds of the contest would run out once the puck was dropped as Phoenix fell to the Colorado Avalanche 7-4.
The Coyotes will travel to San Jose on Wednesday to take on the Sharks at HP Pavilion.
Wednesday's game can be seen on FSN Arizona and heard on KDUS-1060AM, KDKB-93.3 FM or on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.
NEXT HOME GAME
Phoenix will return to Glendale Arena on Thursday, December 29, when they play host to Pacific Division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.