GLENDALE – Picking the game's No. 1 Star on Saturday night was a classic no-brainer.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan notched two power-play goals, took five shots and delivered four hits. Beyond the stats, he seemingly willed the Coyotes to their 4-3 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals.
“He put the team on his back, and everyone responded around him,” goalie Mike Smith said. “It was great to see from a guy like that.”
Doan, who scored just one goal in the team’s first nine games, has notched four in the past three games and seven in his past eight games. Five of his team-high eight goals have come on power plays.
“You’re fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time on the PP and finding some loose ones here and there,” Doan said when asked to explain his goal-scoring tear. “Power play can carry everybody, and it feels good when you’re contributing, and right now, being able to score, it feels fun.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett says it’s not a coincidence that the Coyotes are winning games during Doan’s hot streak.
“He’s shooting the puck well, and he’s kind of hard on the puck all over,” Tippett said. “You see him and he has the puck a lot so that’s a good sign for us. We’re going to have to get better and one way for your team to get better is for individual players to start playing better, and he’s the guy who has taken that responsibility the last couple of weeks and has really played well.”
The Coyotes have won four of their last five games and all four of those victories have come via shootouts.
The latest came Saturday night and it capped a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Washington Capitals.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker scored the goals and Mike Smith stopped the only shot he had to face – off the stick of Alex Ovechkin.
“I was scared to death,” Smith said regarding facing Ovechkin in the second round of the shootout after Washington’s Mikhail Grabovski failed to get a shot on Smith in the first round. “But it’s a good opportunity to face good players.”
Smith entered the game with a 0-6-0 record vs. Washington, but he left with his first win, which was nice considering it was, afterall, “Mike Smith Bobblehead Night.”
“They’re huge points,” Smith said of the four extra points the Coyotes have earned by winning shootouts this season. “Last year we lacked seven or eight points. You start putting them in the win column and it’s a different story.”
Vermette, who started the shootout with a goal, was credited with his third game-deciding shootout goal. He’s now scored three goals in four shootout tries this season.
Smith was called for delay of game in the second period when he played the puck beyond center ice as he tried to get off the ice on a delayed Washington penalty.
According to Rule 27.7, that’s a no-no.
“I'd say it was a stupid penalty, but I didn't even know the rule,” Smith said with a smile. “It's called delay of game, but I was keeping the play going... I think they should change that one.”
Lauri Korpikoski started the comeback by scoring an acrobatic, backhanded goal with 3:26 left in the third period to pull Phoenix within 3-2. It was Korpikoski’s second goal of the season and his first point since Oct. 19.
“It feels good to contribute, especially to a win,” Korpikoski said. “I’ve been struggling offensively and squeezing the stick a little… Hopefully this one is the first of more to come.”
• The Coyotes played minus forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Derek Morris. Both are nursing lower-body injuries and are considered day-to-day.
• Center Jeff Halpern returned to the lineup after missing five games due to injury. He played 8:16 and won 6 of 11 faceoffs.
• Defenseman David Schlemko returned to the lineup after missing five games due to injury. He played 18:56, delivered two hits and blocked four shots.