Backed by sound goaltending and a solid approach on all fronts, the Phoenix Coyotes opened the 2005 Rookie Tournament with a strong 3-1 win over the host team, the San Jose Sharks.
Coyote defenseman Keith Yandle opened the scoring in the contest with a goal at 13:14 of the first period. As the Coyotes power play expired, Yandle took a pass from John Hecimovic and fired a shot from the point. The puck found its way through traffic and hit the near pipe. Yandle's rebound bounced off the back of Sharks goalie Jamie Holden and dropped in for a goal, giving the Coyotes the 1-0 lead.
The Sharks answered back with a late second period goal from Steve Bernier at 7:44. The scoring opportunity developed off an errant clearing attempt coming out the Coyotes zone on a penalty-kill. Bernier swatted the puck out of mid-air, moved in on Coyotes goalie Pier-Olivier Pelletier and beat him stick-side high.
Both teams skated into the final frame tied until the Coyotes went ahead for good at 8:10 of the third period. Center Evan Schwabe would go onto to hit right wing John Hecimovic on the weak side of a two one on. The play developed in the neutral zone as Schwabe jumped on a loose puck and used his speed to beat a Sharks defender down low. Right wing John Hecimovic followed Schwabe in the zone to help setup the two-on-one. As Holden committed to Schwabe, he placed an perfect pass on the tape of Hecimovic's stick. From there, Hecimovic found the back of the net for the go ahead goal.
"Evan's a great playmaker," said Hecimovic about Schwabe finding him for the game-winning goal. "With a player like that, you just have to go to the net. I went back door and he made a great pass to me and I buried it."
The teams would go onto to exchange penalties for most of the third period until Mike Kompon added an insurance goal at 18:53. Both Kompon and Schwabe were working hard behind the Sharks net when Kompon emerged with the puck, circled around on the far side and one timed it passed Holden.
The Coyotes were backed by 2005 2nd round draft pick Pier-Olivier Pelletier, who went on to turn away 22 of 23 shots faced.
"The defenseman did a great job clearing out the center, which gave me a great opportunity to see the puck," explained Pelletier about his opening night victory. "Overall, this was a great team win."
"The play started in the net with Pelletier, said Coyotes Coach Pat Conacher. "He came in and was solid from start to finish. He showed a lot of confidence and made things look easy."
Scoring: 13:14 -PHX - Yandle (Hecimovic, Koreis)
Penalties: 4:18 - SJ - Bernier (2 min., tripping), 6:24 - PHX - Gelech (2 min., tripping), 9:28 - PHX (2 min., boarding), 10:43 - SJ - Staubitz (2 min., hooking), 14:44 - SJ - Conboy (5min., fighting), 14:44 - PHX - Amodeo (5 min., fighting)
Scoring: 17:04 - SJ - Bernier (unassisted), PP
Penalties: 1:59 - PHX - Stephenson (2 min., holding), 2:33 - PHX - Jones (2 min., cross checking), 10:35 -SJ- Vernace (2 min., slashing), 16:26 - PHX - Gens (2 min., holding), 18:12 - SJ - Staubitz (2 min., cross checking)
Scoring: 8:10 - PHX - Hecimovic (Schwabe), 18:53 - PHX - Kompon (Schwabe)
Penalties: 1:39 - SJ - Olson (5 min., fighting), 1:39 - PHX - Cormier (5 min., fighting), 3:39 - PHX - Schwabe (2 min., hooking), 3:43 - SJ - Hennessy (2 min., hooking), 10:52 - PHX - Schwabe (2 min., holding), 16:11 - SJ - Haw (2 min., cross checking), 19:11 - PHX - Monych (2 min., hooking)
PHX - Pelletier (W): 22 for 23; SJ - Holden: 32 for 35
In earlier action
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, to kick off the 2005 Rookie Tournament. The Ducks first line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner supplied all the offense Anaheim would need to hold off a late surge from the Kings. Both Getzlaf and Penner led all scorers with a goal and two assists.
Anze Kopitar and Dany Roussin provided the Kings two goals in the loss.
Goalie Gabriel Bouthillette played the entire game for the Ducks and turned away 31 of 33 shots. The Kings split time between goalies Yutaka Fukufuji and Ryan Munce. Fukufuji stopped 16 of 18 shots faced, while Munce was 9 for 10.
Up Next for the Phoenix
The Coyotes face the Los Angeles Kings in the first game tomorrow at 4:00 pm PST.