Photo Credit: Debora Robinson/Anaheim Ducks
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Anaheim - Ilja Bryzgalov
On Friday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to their Pacific Division rivals, the Anaheim Ducks by the score of 6-2.
In the opening minute of the game, the Ducks were able to force the puck deep into the Coyotes zone, including a shot on goal by Anaheim's Teemu Selanne. However, Goaltender Curtis Joseph, who was making his first start in nine days, was sharp in net and kept the game scoreless.
The Coyotes brought the play back into the Anaheim zone as the period continued where veteran center Jeremy Roenick registered Phoenix's first shot on goal when he took a feed from Ladislav Nagy along the left-hand boards and blasted a one-timer on goal. Matching his counterpart at the other end of the ice, Anaheim netminder Ilja Bryzgalov made the save from deep in his crease.
Phoenix would get the first power play of the game when Shawn Thornton was sent to the penalty box at 5:47 of the first for slashing. The Coyotes tried to establish an offensive threat with the extra skater, but before they could take full advantage of the penalty to Thornton, Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski was assessed a tripping penalty at 6:24 of the period.
Throughout the four-on-four action and the brief Duck power play, neither club would be able to take the early lead as the period approached the halfway point, still knotted at 0-0.
Anaheim would return to the box at 11:56 of the opening frame when Francois Beauchemin was called for hooking. Just as it had in their first opportunity, the Coyotes power play made an all-out assault on the Duck net including a pile up the forced Bryzgalov onto his back, leaving the puck at the top of the crease. Despite the consistent offensive attack and the opportunities provided by the Ducks, Phoenix was unable to find the back of the net and capture the first lead of the game.
Late in the first, the Ducks were granted their second man-advantage of the period when Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris was called for interference with 3:05 to play. Anaheim would use just eight-seconds of their power play as Selanne ripped a shot on goal from the slot that Joseph was able to turn aside, sending a rebound to the right side of the net where a waiting Chris Kunitz flipped the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Nagy nearly tied the game with less than two minutes to play when his shot from just inside the blueline seemed to fool Bryzgalov, forcing him to make an awkward save on the Coyotes sniper.
The first period would come to an end shortly after Nagy's late scoring opportunity, sending both teams to their respective locker rooms with Anaheim holding a one-goal lead.
With just over a minute gone in the second period, the Coyotes came within inches of tying the game as Yanic Perreault, who was playing in first game since joining the Coyotes, snapped a wrist shot from the left side of the Anaheim goal that beat Bryzgalov and ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play.
The Ducks would increase their lead to 2-0 at 2:07 of the second when center Dustin Penner was allowed to enter the Phoenix zone and fire a slap shot from the top f the left face-off circle that beat Joseph to give Anaheim a two-goal lead.
The action began to pick up with 13-minutes to play in the period when Anaheim's Shane O'Brien made a hard drive at the net, only to be stopped on the doorstep by Joseph. Moments later, the Ducks capitalized on a Phoenix turnover and created a three-on-one rush into the Coyotes zone. Following a quick cross-ice pass, Selanne tried to snap the puck into the goal from the left side, but "Cujo" made a great play to slide across the crease and kick out the puck, keeping the Anaheim lead at two goals.
Just seconds after Joseph's highlight save on Selanne, Phoenix forward Oleg Saprykin was hammered at the Anaheim blue line by Francois Beauchemin, sending Saprykin to the ice and then to the bench. Even after absorbing the heavy hit, Saprykin remained on the bench and took his next shift on the ice.
Roenick took exception to the hit on Saprykin and tried to rally to his teammates defense, but as a result, was assessed a minor penalty for roughing at 7:42 of the stanza. Anaheim continued to take advantage of the extra attacker as Selanne blasted a slap shot from the top of the left circle that found a hole through the legs of Joseph, putting the Ducks on top 3-0.
Anaheim blueliner and former Coyote Sean O'Donnell made it a 4-0 game at 14:13 of the period when he blasted a drive from the left side that reached the back of the net for his second tally of the season.
The Coyotes were given their fourth power play of the game at 16:49 of the second when Shawn Thornton made his second trip to the penalty box, this time for cross-checking. Unfortunately, the man-advantage would only last for 35-seconds as Mike Comrie was whistled for tripping at 17:24 of the second. The open ice created by the four-on-four play, would lend itself to Anaheim's favor when forward Andy McDonald broke in on the phoenix goal with just under two minutes to play. However, before he could get his shot off, Joseph tried to poke-check the puck away, but in the process, lost his grip on his goal stick, resulting in a penalty shot for the Ducks. McDonald took the honors and fired a low snap shot to the strong side, which beat Joseph and gave Anaheim a 5-0 lead as the season period of play came to a close.
Phoenix began the third period by making a change in goal as David LeNeveu took over for Curtis Joseph.
Just 1:10 into the final period, the Coyotes were able to make their first dent on the scoreboard when Patrick Fischer's wrist shot from the slot beat Bryzgalov, to make it a 5-1 game. Fredrik Sjostrom recorded the only assist on Fischer's second goal of the season.
At 3:31 of the third, Derek Morris took his second penalty of the contest when he was sent to the box for hooking. The Ducks elite power play unit feature Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer went on the attack, blasting shots the Phoenix net. The pressure would lead to the Ducks sixth goal of the game at 4:2 0 of the third when Pronger one-timed a feed from Ryan Getzlaf at the point, through the legs of LeNeveu for Anaheim's third power play goal of the contest.
With just under 11-minutes to play in the third, the Ducks nearly scored again when a scrum in front of the Phoenix net resulted in a loose puck sliding through the crease and striking the right goal post before the Coyotes defense could clear the zone.
Mike Comrie cut the Ducks lead to 6-2 at 10:39 of the third on a rush that saw a trio of Coyotes forward contributing on the play. The rush was started by Saprykin, who fired the initial shot on goal; once Bryzgalov made the first save, Owen Nolan followed up with a shot of his own that was stopped but provided a rebound for Comrie, who tapped the puck past the outstretched leg of the Anaheim goaltender for his fourth goal of the season.
The Coyotes and Ducks would trade offensive rushes over the final minutes of the game, but neither netminder would allow another goal. As a result, the Coyotes were unable close the gap as they fell to the Anaheim Ducks by the final score of 6-2.