(Photos courtesy of Gerry Thomas)
On Monday evening, the phoenix Coyotes traveled to Calgary to face the Flames in a Western Conference showdown.
The Flames looked like they had the early momentum as they fed off the fans in Pengrowth Saddledome and attacked the Coyotes with shots from every angle. But on this night, Curtis Joseph refused to give an inch as he turned aside 11 first period shots by Calgary and kept Phoenix in the game despite one lopsided period.
In the second period, the Coyotes evened the playing field as they brought their own pressure on Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Led offensively by captain Shane Doan, Phoenix demonstrated an impressive offensive display that pushed Kiprusoff to the limit, but not over the line as the Coyotes couldn't register the first goal of the contest and the second period came to an end with both clubs still entrenched in a 0-0 battle.
The third period proved to be the most exciting 20 minutes of the game for Coyotes fans as center Mike Ricci, who returned to the lineup Monday after missing three games due to a broken nose, scored his first goal of the season and the eventual game-winner with 12:46 left in the period. On the play, Coyotes defenseman Paul Mara brought the puck out of the Coyotes zone and pushed it ahead to Fredrik Sjsotrom. Sjostrom then blasted a slap shot that went high over the net, hit the glass behind the Calgary goal and bounced back out front to the top of the crease. Ricci, who had just gotten around Flames defenseman Bryan Marchment, flipped the puck over the shoulder of Kiprusoff for the 1-0 lead.
Minutes later the Coyotes had a chance to add to their lead when left wing Oleg Saprykin was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind just seconds earlier. On the shot, Saprykin drifted to his right, bringing Kiprusoff over to the same side. Saprykin then tried to pick the top left corner of the net, but his shot went wide of the goal and the score remained 1-0.
The Flames tried desperately to tie the game as the third period wound down but a series of clutch clearings by the Phoenix defense and some untimely penalties to the Flames kept them from putting together the offensive attacked they had hoped for.
With less than a minute to play in the game, Calgary Head Coach Darryl Sutter pulled Kiprusoff from the nets for the extra attacker, but Doan jumped on a loose puck, sent it ahead to Boyd Devereaux who slid it into the entry net to douse the Flames hopes of a comeback and secure the 2-0 Phoenix victory.
BALLARD PLAYS ON
In the second period of Monday's game, Coyotes rookie defenseman Keith Ballard blocked a shot off his left hand that sent the blue liner to the Phoenix bench in obvious discomfort.
Once on the bench, Ballard received a spay of instant-freeze on this hand as he refused to miss a shift.
Ballard finished the evening with a team high of 22:45 of ice time over a span of 26 shifts.
Goaltender Curtis Joseph recorded his first shutout of the season on Monday and the 44th of his career as he stopped all 25 shots he faced from Calgary.
PENALTY KILLING SHINES
The Phoenix penalty killing unit put together another impressive effort in Monday's victory as the Flames went 0-for-7 on the man-advantage.
GAUTHIER FACES SURGERY
On Monday, the Coyotes announced that defenseman Denis Gauthier will miss the next four weeks as he recovers from surgery on his right hand.
Gauthier suffered a broken hand when he was checked into the boards by Brendan Shanahan during last Saturday's contest against the Detroit Red Wings.
BOUCHER MAKES TRIP
Coyotes goaltender Brian Boucher, who suffered a groin injury in the first preseason game of the 2005-06 season, did accompany the team on their four-game road trip.
Boucher is still listed as day-to-day, but he is expected to begin practicing with the team during the current road trip.
The Coyotes return to the ice Tuesday when they visit Edmonton to face the Oilers. Fans can catch all the action on FSN Arizona or they can listen to the game on KDUS-1060AM.