Photo Credit: Getty Images
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Los Angeles - Sean Burke
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes posted a thrilling 3-2, comeback victory over their Pacific Division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.
The Coyotes created the first scoring chance of the game just over a minute into the opening period when defenseman Travis Roche sent a pass from the right corner of the Kings' zone to the front of the net. Phoenix forward Owen Nolan tried to tip the puck into the net, but it ended up taking an odd bounce over the Los Angeles net and away from trouble.
Shortly after the Coyotes first scoring opportunity, the Kings made their way into the Phoenix zone with Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov leading a two-on-one rush. Cammalleri waited patiently until he had pulled Coyotes goaltender Mikael Tellqvist to the right side of the net before sending a pass into the slot where Frolov was able to deflect the puck past Tellqvist for a 1-0 lead.
At 4:35 of the first, the Coyotes received the first power play of the game when Los Angeles netminder Sean Burke, lost his balance behind his own net and fell on top of the puck, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty. Despite being down a skater, the Kings would break free in the neutral zone, resulting in another odd man rush into the Coyotes zone. This time it was rookie Anze Kopitar who would take advantage when he put a move on Tellqvist, swept the puck around him and tapped it into the Phoenix goal for a 2-0 lead.
Beginning at 6:58 of the period, the Coyotes would spend four of the next five minute shorthanded due to penalties called on Steven Reinprecht (slashing) and Travis Roche (delay-of-game). Los Angeles would use the power plays to establish a constant offensive presence in the offensive zone and add to their first period shot totals.
The Kings best scoring opportunity during the man-advantage came when Tellqvist was caught out of position at the right side of the net and the Kings were able to move the puck back to the left side. But Los Angeles wouldn't have an open net to shoot at thanks to a selfless play by defenseman Keith Ballard who fell to his knees in the crease; essentially assuming the goal tending duties until Tellqvist could get back into position.
Phoenix refused to just left the final minutes of the first tick away without making their own mark on the scoreboard and at 18:05 of the period, Josh Gratton would put the Coyotes on the scoreboard. Blueliner Zbynek Michalek set up the play by blasting a slap shot from the point, which Gratton was able to deflect at the top of the Kings' crease, past Burke for his first goal of the season, making it a 2-1 game.
Early in the second period, the Coyotes found themselves on the power play when Los Angeles defenseman hooked Owen Nolan to the ice at 1:18 of the period. Phoenix received a scare early in the power play when forward Yanic Perreault absorbed a big hit to the left shoulder from Kings defenseman Rob Blake, in front of the Los Angeles net. Perreault did immediately return to his feel and rejoin the play. Unfortunately, the Coyotes wouldn't be able to use the full two-minutes of the man-advantage as Ladislav Nagy was handed his first penalty of the game at 2:23 for holding.
Phoenix goaltender Mikael Tellqvist took a shot to his left collarbone area shortly after the penalty to Nagy expired. During the following stoppage in play, Coyotes Athletic Therapist Chris Broadhurst visited Tellqvist on the ice before Tellqvist resumed his position in the crease.
At 6:37 of the second, the Kings received their fifth power play of the game when Phoenix's Nick Boynton was handed a slashing penalty. During the penalty to Boynton, Los angles crashed the Coyotes goal, trying to regain the two-goal lead, but the Phoenix penalty-killing unit and Tellqvist held their ground and kept it a one-goal game.
With 9:33 to play in the second, Los Angeles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsy blocked a Shane Doan slap shot from the top of the slot that dropped the Kings blueliner to the ice in obvious agony. Once the play was stopped, Visnovsky tried to return to his feet, but fell back to the ice as his right foot was simply unable to support his body. Eventually Visnovsky was helped off the ice and into the Kings locker room.
The Coyotes penalty-killing unit returned to action at 10:41 of the period due to a hooking call on Josh Gratton. Just as they had done all night, Phoenix's penalty killers would bend without breaking as they allowed the Kings to get pucks to the net, but also kept the shooting lanes clear of any traffic or screens. As a result, Tellqvist would easily make the saves and keep the Coyotes within striking distance.
Late in the period, Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky returned to the ice, only to register a hooking penalty on Shane Doan at the 16-minute mark of the stanza. On the ensuing power play, Yanic Perreault made his first appearance on the ice since sustaining a hit from Blake earlier in the period. However, the return of Perreault wasn't enough to beat Burke, who continued to turn aside the Coyotes attempts to tie the game.
With just 12-seconds to play in the period, the Coyotes returned to the penalty box for the seventh time, as Zbynek Michalek was given a phantom interference call inside his own zone. The period would end quickly, leaving the Coyotes with 1:47 of penalty killing duty awaiting them at the start of the third period.
Phoenix began the final period killing off the remainder of Michalek's second period penalty and did so successfully, returning to full strength facing only a one-goal deficit.
Just over three minute into the period, Los Angeles' Sean Burke appeared to suffer an injury to his right hand. He was examined by the Kings medical staff and tried to continue, but during the next stoppage in play, Burke skated to the Kings bench and headed into the locker room. Backup goalie Yutaka Fukufuji, quickly grabbed his gear and replaced Burke between the pipes.
At 7:24 of the third, Phoenix went back on the power play when Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar tripped Keith Ballard behind the Coyotes net. With the extra attacker, the Coyotes would be able to keep the puck in the Kings zone for the majority of the power play, but were unable to get enough pressure on Fukufuji to even the score as Los Angeles blocked several shots and kept the shooting lanes blocked.
The Coyotes kept the pressure on rookie netminder Fukufiji and at 13:58, Ladislav Nagy got the better of the young goalie when his wrist shot from the left face-off circle trickled past the young goalie and into the net to tie the game at 2-2.
With three minutes left in the regulation, Phoenix received a huge power play as Kings forward Derek Armstrong was called for hooking. After going 0-for-5 on their first five power play, the Coyotes finally found the success they had been looking for at 18:21 of the third; when Travis Roche blasted a slap shot from the right side that found a way through the legs of Fukufuji, giving the Coyotes their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Phoenix would regroup and hold off a fierce onslaught from the Kings as they tried to tie game in the final minute of play, but the Coyotes defense and Mikael Tellqvist saved their best efforts for the 60-secodns of action, keeping the Kings off the scoreboard and lifting Phoenix to a 3-2 win.