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COYOTES RETURN TO ACTION WITH 5-4 WIN OVER COLORADO

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
By: Chad Lynch

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

STARTING GOALTENDERS
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Colorado - Peter Budaj

On Friday night, the Phoenix Coyotes continued their climb up the Western Conference standings with a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Any bonds that the Coyotes and Avalanche may have shared as members of the Western Conference during the All-Star break were forgotten just over three minutes into the first period. At 3:15 of the first, Colorado's Antti Laaksonen put a hit on Phoenix forward Josh Gratton along the boards. What drew the ire of the Coyotes was the fact that Gratton had turned his back toward Laaksonen as he prepared to leave the ice when he was hit. Coyotes' defenseman Nick Boynton took exception to the hit and hauled Laaksonen to the ice in an attempt to emphasize his point. However, Boynton would have consequences for his actions as he was given a minor penalty for roughing on the play.

Less than a minute into the penalty to Boynton, Colorado would take their first penalty of the game when Paul Stastny was called for holding. The two clubs would trade offensive rushes during the stretch of four-on-four play and then just seconds after the penalty to Boynton expired, the Avalanche would take the first lead of the game on an unfortunate deflection in front of the Phoenix net.

At 5:20 into the period and with the puck already deep in the Coyotes zone, Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold took a pass at the top of the slot and blasted a shot at the net. Leopold's shot would strike the shaft of Ed Jovanovski's stick in front of the net and slide past goaltender Curtis Joseph to give the Av's a 1-0 lead.

Phoenix would need to kill off their second penalty of the period at 6:48 of the first as Patrick Fischer, who was recalled by the Coyotes earlier in the week, took a high sticking penalty inside the Phoenix zone. Just as they had done during the infraction to Boynton, the Coyotes defense kept the Avalanche away from the net and allowed Joseph to keep sight of the puck and make the saves he needed to.

Phoenix tried to even the score as the period wore on, but Colorado netminder Peter Budaj, was taking a page out of Joseph's book, making stops and controlling his rebounds, which helped keep Phoenix off the scoreboard.

With less than a minute to play in the period, Coyotes right wing Owen Nolan, drove hard to the Avalanche net with the puck only to be denied on the doorstep. However, Budaj was unable to cover the rebound and Phoenix's Steven Reinprecht raced in and swept the puck into the net to tie the game at 1-1. Reinprecht's goal was his second of the season after returning from an extended absence due to injury.

Reinprecht's goal would be the last of the opening frame as the two teams headed to the locker room after 20-minutes of play, tied at 1-1.

Early in the period, the Coyotes created a quality scoring opportunity when Yanic Perreault and Ladislav Nagy entered the Colorado zone on a two-on-one rush. Once the Avalanche defenseman committed to Nagy, Perreault kept the puck and took a wrist shot from the top of the slot, but the puck sailed high of the net, effectively ending Phoenix's rush.

Just over a minute into the period, the Coyotes went back on the power play as Colorado's Ossi Vaananen was forced to serve a tripping penalty. Despite being short one skater, the Avalanche would register their second shorthanded goal of the game at 2:40 of the second when Laaksonen delivered a wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle that found a way past Joseph for a 2-1 Colorado lead.

Minutes later, the Avalanche extended their lead to 3-1 when a wrap around attempt by Brett McLean deflected off Ian Laperriere in the crease and slid into the Coyotes net.

The Coyotes nearly made it a 3-2 game at 7:37 of the stanza when Phoenix crashed the Colorado net, jamming the puck at Budaj. Eventually, the puck would slide under the Colorado netminder and into the net, but it wouldn't count as the on-ice official had lost sight of the puck and blew his whistle prior to the puck entering the net.

Phoenix would cut the deficit to one midway through the period when Boynton's blast from the point slowly squeezed through the legs of Budaj and began to roll in the crease; where Owen Nolan was waiting and able to tap it over the goal line before the Avalanche defense could move the puck out of harm's way.

While the Coyotes had been able to score a late goal in the opening period, the Av's would do the same in the second, as Colorado captain Joe Sakic capitalized on a rebound at the top of the crease, putting it past Joseph with just 1:32 to play in the period.

Through the first six-minutes of the third period, the Coyotes had out-shot the Avalanche 4-0, but had been unable to close the gap as Colorado maintained their two-goal lead.

Phoenix would catch the break they had been looking for at 6:55 of the third when a delay-of-game penalty of Colorado's Wojtek Wolski, gave the Coyotes a crucial power play. Phoenix forward Yanic Perreault made sure that the man-advantage wouldn't go to waste as he spotted a loose puck in the slot and released a slap shot that beat Budaj low on the shot side to make it a 4-3 game.

Just 62-seconds after Perreault brought the Coyotes to within one, he tied the game at 4-4 when he deflected a shot by defenseman Zbynek Michalek, in the slot, lifting the puck over the shoulder of Budaj and into the net. Perreault's second goal of the game was his team-leading 17th of the season.

At 16:45 of the period, Phoenix found themselves back on the penalty kill when center Steven Reinprecht took a hooking penalty in front of the Coyotes' net. Colorado would dominate the tempo of play during the penalty to Reinprecht, but were unable to get the better of Joseph, who kept the game tied heading into the final minute of regulation.

Neither club would find the game-winning tally during the final 60-seconds of play; as a result, the Phoenix and Colorado would head to overtime.

Coyotes forward Mike Zigomanis, tried to capture victory during the opening moments of the extra frame when he hammered a slap shot from from the Colorado zone that barely sailed over the net and into the corner.

With 2:40 left in overtime, Colorado's Ken Klee took an ill-advised interference penalty, giving Phoenix a crucial power play. The Coyotes immediately went on the attack and converged on the Avalanche goal, trying to stuff the puck past Budaj, but were unable to find the back of the net.

With less than two minutes to play, both clubs would lead odd-man rushes into the offensive zone, but neither would result in a game-winner. In the end, the game couldn't be settled with 65-minutes of hockey and a shootout would be necessary to award the final point.

In the shootout, Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph would make three outstanding saves on Colorado shooters, Wojtek Wolski, Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic, while at the other end of the ice, Ladislav Nagy drilled the game-winner past Budaj on the stick side, giving the Coyotes a thrilling 5-4 win.

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