Photo Credit: Charles Laberge & AP/Ian Barrett
The Coyotes came charging out of the gates in the first period of Tuesday's contest as Ladislav Nagy nearly gave Phoenix the early lead in the first minute of action when he raced into the zone and tried to stuff a backhand past Montreal's Jose Theodore, but was stopped on the doorstep.
Montreal forward Craig Rivet took the first penalty of the game at the 56-second mark when he was called for hooking. However, the offensive prowess that the Coyotes exhibited in the first minute of play, was absent on the first power play of the contest as the game remained scoreless.
With 16:10 left in the first period, the Canadiens took their first turn on the man-advantage as Coyotes defenseman Sean O'Donnell was given a two-minute minor for high-sticking. But just as the Coyotes power play sputtered in the early moments of the game, so did Montreal's as Phoenix kept the pressure off Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph and allowed O'Donnell to return to the ice.
The game wouldn't remain scoreless for long as a breakdown in defensive zone coverage by the Coyotes left rookie forward Andrei Kastsitsyn alone in front, where he took a pass from behind the net and sent a shot under the crossbar and by Joseph for the 1-0 lead.
Phoenix found themselves shorthanded for the second time in the opening period at the 9:14 mark when Geoff Sanderson was called for hooking. The penalty would wind up being a costly one for the Coyotes as Tomas Plekanec sent a wrist shot from the slot, past the outstretched arm of a fallen Joseph to give Montreal a 2-0 first period lead.
The Coyotes had an opportunity to get back into the game with 7:06 to play in the first when Montreal's Jan Bulis was called for tripping Mike Comrie following a face-off in the Canadiens zone. This time, Phoenix did a better job of generating some offensive pressure, but it still wasn't enough to solve Theodore, who kept Phoenix off the scoreboard and preserved the two-goal lead.
With just 1:43 to play in the period, the Coyotes took their third penalty of the contest when defenseman Denis Gauthier was called for hitting the Canadiens' Mike Ribeiro with a high-stick behind the Phoenix net. Matters got even worse for the visiting team with 30 seconds to play in the period when Mike Johnson was called for hooking. Montreal wouldn't score on the two-man-advantage in the first period, but the Coyotes also had more than a minute of penalty to kill waiting for them in the second period as the opening 20 minutes came to a close with the 'Habs' holding a 2-0 lead.
In the second period, the Coyotes tried to climb back in to the game by raising their level of physical play, but the Canadiens were able to absorb the punishment without turning over the puck in costly situations.
Both clubs traded offensive rushes in the second period, only to be turned aside by the opposing defense and goaltenders.
Curtis Joseph made a great save with 9:14 left in the period when Mike Ribeiro had a great chance from the slot, but his shot was turned aside by the left goal pad of Joseph to keep the Montreal lead at 2-0.
Montreal added to their lead at 11:44 of the second when Sheldon Souray's blast from the point was tipped in front by Niklas Sundstrom and deflected by Joseph for a 3-0 advantage. The officials did call up to the video replay booth to make certain that the shot was not tipped in by a high-stick, but it was determined that Sundstrom had his stick below the crossbar, allowing the goal to stand.
Late in the second period, Ladislav Nagy was struck in the face by an errant high-stick from Richard Zednik, sending the Canadiens forward to the penalty box for the final 19 seconds of the period.
Phoenix wouldn't be able to convert on the power play before the end of the stanza, but they did have 1:41 of man-advantage time waiting for them to start the final period as the two teams headed to the dressing room after two periods of play, with Montreal holding a 3-0 lead.
The Coyotes began the third period with the daunting task of coming back from a three-goal deficit, as task that became even harder at 6:29 of the third when Michael Ryder's slap shot from the left face-off circle beat Joseph and extended the Montreal lead to 4-0.
But the Coyotes would finally cut into the Montreal lead with 12:34 to play in the game when Boyd Devereaux's slap shot from the right side caught Theodore up high, and fell to the ice, bouncing into the goal to make it a 4-1 contest. Dave Scatchard recorded his eighth assist of the season on Devereaux's goal.
Following the goal by Devereaux, the Coyotes tried to cut the lead in have with blasts by Shane Doan and Paul Mara, but Theodore refused to give in.
With just over a minute left in the game, the Coyotes went on the offensive attack as the Canadiens were on a delayed penalty. The man-advantage coming to Phoenix gave them the chance to be especially aggressive and it paid off with 1:11 left in the period when Mike Ricci got to a loose puck at the top of the Canadiens' crease and stuffed the puck past Theodore for his third goal of the season.
On the next shift after Ricci's goal, the play turned physical in front of the Montreal net. When everything was ironed out, the Canadiens were the recipients of a power play, effectively ending the Coyotes hopes of a comeback.
Then with 55 seconds left in the contest, Montreal's Jan Bulis and Tomas Plekanec, got behind the Coyotes defense, raced in alone on Joseph and capped off a give-and-go with a shot by Bulis, beating "Cujo" on the strong side to give the 'Habs' back a three-goal lead at 5-2.
The final seconds of the period would tick away without incident as the Coyotes dropped the final game of a two-game road trip to the Canadiens 5-2.
Phoenix will return to the Glendale Arena on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005 when they take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The game will be broadcast on FSN High Definition as well as FSN Arizona. You can also listen to the game on KDUS-1060 AM, KDKB-93.3 FM or on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.
Thursday's game will also be a Bud Light "Friends Night Out" game. Get 2 tickets, 2 orders of buffalo chicken strips and 2 16-ounce beers or sodas for only $50.00! Or you can upgrade your tickets to the lower level for only $100.00 per package.
To purchase a Bud Light "Friends Night Out" package for Thursday's game, click here.
To purchase regular tickets for Thursday's game, click here.