By: Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
Curtis Joseph once again illustrated why he is the Phoenix Coyotes MVP.
Shortly after accepting the Coyotes "Most Valuable Player" award, Joseph went on to make 32 saves while Derek Morris, Keith Ballard and Fredik Sjostrom all scored as the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 to conclude the home portion of the 2005-06 campaign in style on Fan Appreciation Night at Glendale Arena.
"Curtis was what he was all year," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "He had an outstanding year and it was a pretty exciting game for the organization. It was nice to finish above the .500 mark at home."
Joseph, who's an unrestricted free agent at season's end, improved to 31-21-3. An amazing accomplishment for a team that's hovering around the .500 mark on the season.
"Curtis has had an outstanding year and we made contact with his representatives to say that we want to talk," said Gretzky of Joseph's future with the Coyotes. "He really loves playing and living in this cityâ€¦going forward we're hopeful that we can work something out with him."
"He's been tremendous for us all year long," said Ballard. "And again tonight he was our best player and we were able to get him the win."
After failing to score on two 5-on-3 opportunities in the first period, the Coyotes capitalized on their first power play chance of the second period when Morris sent a hard shot past Mathieu Garon to notch his sixth goal of the season.
"It wasn't our best but it was a game in which we got better as the game went on," said Ballard, who extended Phoenix's lead to 2-0 on a shorthanded rush with 4:25 left in the period to record his third point in the last two games. "Joseph was great, just as he's been all year for us. He's been tremendous again tonight."
Joseph, who made most of his saves in the first two periods (28), was sensational in the second period while killing the Kings' two 5-on-3 power plays.
Sjostrom capped the scoring on a power play tally with 47-seconds left as the Coyotes concluded their Pacific Division schedule with a 15-5-2 record.
"It was nice to finish at .500 in our division," said Gretzky. "It wasn't a (power play) clinic but it was 5-on-5. We're disappointed that we didn't score on those power play but we're happy that we were able to kill their power plays off as well."
FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT A SUCCESS
Several Coyotes fans came away with many prizes, which included autographed jerseys of their favorite players and one lucky fan was given a chance to win a Toyota Tundra pick-up truck courtesy of Valley Toyota Dealers and 93.3 KDKB. In addition, some fans were given a trip to Hawaii; others won diamond earrings, roundtrip airfare and a recliner chair courtesy of Ashley furniture, plus more than a thousand other prizes.
The Coyotes will next play at Nashville on Saturday and will conclude their 2005-06 campaign in St. Louis on Sunday. David LeNeveu is expected to start against the Predators while Curtis Joseph will play in St. Louis.