Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Jeff Taffe - (C) Niko Kapanen - (RW) Shane Doan
(D) Keith Ballard - (D) Derek Morris
DUCKS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Chris Kunitz - (C) Andy McDonald - (RW) Teemu Selanne
(D) Scott Niedermayer - (D) Francois Beauchemin
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Anaheim - Ilya Bryzgalov
On Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes turned in one of their best games of the season as they topped the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks by the score of 2-1.
Just under two minutes into the first period, the Coyotes penalty-killing unit was called into action as forward Daniel Carcillo was called for high-sticking in front of the Phoenix bench. On the ensuing man-advantage, the Ducks calmly controlled the tempo of play, moving the puck around the offensive zone, but their scoring chances were held to a minimum. When the puck did reach the net, goaltender Curtis Joseph was in position to make the save. As a result, the Coyotes killed off the penalty to Carcillo and returned to full strength, still tied at 0-0.
With 7:15 gone in the first, Anaheim nearly grabbed the first lead of the game when forward Andy McDonald snapped a shot from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Joseph before ringing off the left goal post and into the corner. From there, the Phoenix defense was able to gain control and move the play back into the neutral zone.
At 10:50 of the period, the Ducks made their first trip to the box when Corey Perry was called for holding, giving the Coyotes their first power play of the evening. Just as the case was for Anaheim, Phoenix did a good job of moving the puck around the perimeter of the offensive zone, but was unable to generate a consistent offensive attack and the play returned to five skaters aside.
Late in the opening frame, Phoenix would get their second shot at the power play when Ducks' defenseman Ric Jackman was called for tripping at 17:01. However, the Anaheim penalty killers would once again do their job and keep the Coyotes off the scoreboard as the first period of play came to a close with both teams still searching for a goal.
The Coyotes would continue to apply pressure on the Ducks inside their own zone early in the second and at 4:43 of the period; their efforts would pay off. After getting the puck behind the Anaheim goal, Phoenix captain Shane Doan made a great centering pass to Jeff Taffe at the to of the crease. Taffe then tapped the puck past Bryzgalov and into the net for a 1-0 Coyotes lead.
Just over a minute after taking the lead on the first goal of the game, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded once again when defenseman Keith Ballard was called for tripping at 5:53. Fortunately, the Phoenix defense would keep the pressure off of Joseph, in effect successfully killing the penalty and preserving the one-goal lead.
At 10:21 of the second, the Ducks were forced to trot out their penalty-killing unit for the third time in a span of less than 20-minutes as forward Shawn Thornton was assessed a minor penalty for roughing. However, the Coyotes would be unable to add to their lead as Anaheim relentlessly pursued the puck, forcing Phoenix to use time cycling around the zone rather than setting up a shot.
With just under five minutes remaining in the stanza, Joseph made a great save from point blank range on Ducks' sniper Teemu Selanne to keep Anaheim off the scoreboard.
At 15:56 of the period, the Coyotes offense struck again when center Steven Reinprecht made a great play to draw the lone Ducks' defender, along with Bryzgalov to the far right side of the net; before sending a pass back to the top of the crease. Waiting for the pass was sophomore forward Bill Thomas who tipped the puck past the outstretched leg of Bryzgalov for a 2-0 Phoenix lead. Rookie Daniel Carcillo picked up the secondary assist on Thomas' sixth goal of the season.
Anaheim would get a chance to climb back into the game late in the period when Coyotes' defenseman Nick Boynton was called for tripping at 18:30. While the Coyotes would easily kill off the first 90-seconds of the penalty to Boynton, the Ducks would head to the locker room knowing there was still 30-seconds of power play time awaiting them at the start of the third.
Beginning the third period on the penalty kill never rattled the Coyotes as they quelled the Ducks offense during the final seconds of the man-advantage and returned to full strength.
Midway through the third, the Coyotes went on the power play for the fourth time on the night as Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf was called for interference. Then with 19-seconds left on the penalty to Getzlaf, the Ducks sent another man to the box when Joe DiPenta was called for hooking, giving Phoenix a brief five-on-three situation.
The Coyotes wouldn't convert on the two-man advantage, but nearly put the game out of reach shortly after when Carcillo made a great individual effort to backhand a shot past Bryzgalov and off the left goal post. Despite the flurry of activity, the Ducks' were able to keep Phoenix from adding to their two-goal lead.
With 2:33 to play in the third, the Ducks were able cut the Phoenix lead in half when Travis Moen grabbed the rebound from a blast by Francois Beauchemin, maneuvered around Joseph and tucked the puck in to make it a 2-1 game.
The final two minutes of the game saw Anaheim trying desperately to even the score, but the Coyotes defense was having no part of it as they shut the door on their Pacific Division rivals and held on for a 2-1 victory.