Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Carlson
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Tampa Bay - Johan Holmqvist
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes four-game road trip came to an end as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning by the score of 5-3.
During the opening minutes of the game, the Coyotes and Lightning traded rushes up the ice with neither club being able to generate a high-percentage scoring chance. Despite the lack of scoring over the first few minutes of play, the first period would soon yield a flurry of goals, with both teams finding the back of the net.
Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski narrowly escaped serious injury when he took a hit along the boards behind the Coyotes net that appeared to catch Jovanovski on the left forearm. Although he was shaken up on the play, "Jovo" skated to the bench and eventually returned to action.
The Lightning would strike first at 5:56 of the first when a Tampa Bay shot from the blueline deflected off a Coyote skate along the boards; before eventually winding up on the stick of Martin St. Louis in the slot. St. Louis quickly dumped the puck back to Vaclav Prospal, who spotted Vincent Lecavalier alone at the left side of the net and fed him a pass, allowing Lecavalier to fire the puck into an empty net for a 1-0 lead.
Two-minutes later, Tampa Bay made it a 2-0 game on a broken play that began with Lecavalier skating into the Phoenix zone and having the puck poke-checked off his stick by goaltender Mikael Tellqvist. Once again, Prospal contributed by gaining control of the loose puck and giving it back to Lecavalier, who connected with St. Louis in the slot; at that point, St. Louis was able to shoot the puck into the empty Coyotes net for a two-goal lead.
Less than a minute later, the Coyotes would charge back, cutting the deficit in half when forward Mike Zigomanis grabbed a loose puck at the right side of the Lightning goal and snapped a shot through a screen and eventually the legs of netminder Johan Holmqvist for his 10th goal of the season.
At 11:48 of the period, the Phoenix tied the score at 2-2 when a shot from Keith Ballard at the blueline was deflected en-route to the net by the stick of Oleg Saprykin and sent past Holmqvist.
The game would only stay tied for a little over three minutes as a blocked shot high inside the Tampa Bay zone resulted in a breakaway for Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier made a quick fake on Tellqvist before sliding the puck between his legs to put the Lightning back in the lead by the score of 3-2.
Following the five goals in less than 10-minutes, neither club would score again in the final minutes of the period as the opening 20-minutes of play came to a close with Phoenix trailing by one.
The Coyotes penalty killing was called upon at 1:51 of the second period when Oleg Saprykin was assessed a hooking call inside Phoenix's own zone. Tampa Bay tried to use the extra attacker to their advantage inside the offensive zone, but the Coyotes defense and the play of Tellqvist kept the Lightning in-check and allowed Phoenix to return to full strength.
Phoenix would get their first chance on the power play midway through the period when Tampa Bay's Brad Richards was sent to the box on a delay-of-game penalty after his clearing attempt sailed over the glass and into the stands. The Coyotes put together a solid man-advantage, getting a series of puck to the net and forcing the Lightning to collapse around their own net. Unfortunately, Phoenix wouldn't be able to even the score during the penalty to Richards, but they did begin to build confidence in the offense with their effort.
After another Phoenix power play without a tying goal, the Coyotes even strength attack went to work late in the period and the pressure would pay off at 18:16 of the third when defenseman Derek Morris unleashed a laser of a shot from the left point the blew past Holmqvist and into the top corner of the net to tie the game at 3-3. Travis Roche (8) and Shane Doan (16) recorded assists on Morris' fourth goal of the season.
During the final minute of play, Saprykin made a pair of great blocks on shots from the point. While Saprykin would feel the effects of his hard work, in the end, those blocks kept the Lightning from getting another scoring chance late in the period.
Just 1:24 into the third period, the Lightning regain the lead when forward Brad Richards stepped into a slap shot in the slot that beat Tellqvist low on the glove side for his 20th goal of the season and a 4-3 Tampa Bay lead.
With five-and-a-half minutes gone in the third, it appeared that emotions had gotten the best of two teams and a fight was forthcoming, but Tampa Bay tough-guy Andre Roy proved to be all bark and no bite as Phoenix's Josh Gratton repeatedly tried to fight Roy, only to have the Lightning forward decline in favor of trash talking. The end result was matching minors to both players.
At 11:45 of the period, the Lightning took a two-goal lead when Ruslan Fedotenko's centering pass form the left side was tipped in the slot by center Eric Perrin and sent past the outstretched leg of Tellqvist.
Late in the third period, the Coyotes pulled Tellqvist from the net in favor of an extra attacker. Operating with a six-on-five advantage, the Coyotes dominated the tempo of play, flooding the Lightning net with both shots and bodies. However, Phoenix wouldn't be able to close the gap as Holmqvist kept the puck from crossing the goal line as the Coyotes fell to the Lightning by the final score of 5-3.