Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Carolina - Cam Ward
On Thursday night, Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph recorded his second consecutive shutout and gained sole possession of fifth place on the NHL All-Time wins list as the Coyotes defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by the score of 2-0.
The Coyotes game plan was to put the defending Stanley Cup Champions on their heels early and that is exactly what they did. With a series of rushes into the offensive zone, Phoenix dominated the tempo of play through the first three minutes of play, making the Hurricanes work twice as hard just to keep Phoenix off the scoreboard.
At 3:29 of the first, the Coyotes offensive pressure led to the first goal of the game when Owen Nolan dumped the puck into the Hurricanes zone, allowing Oleg Saprykin to chase it down in the corner and feed a pass over to Yanic Perreault at the top of the crease. Perreault then tipped the puck past netminder Cam Ward for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Following the early strike by the Coyotes, the Hurricanes would take the first penalty of the game when Rod Brind'Amour delivered a dangerous hit from behind on Fredrik Sjostrom, sending the Phoenix forward head first into the boards. Luckily, Sjostrom escaped without injury and Brind'Amour was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding.
The Coyotes would continue to generate offense on the man-advantage by dumping the puck deep into the Carolina end and beating the Hurricanes in a race for the puck. Despite their efforts, the Coyotes would be unable to add to their lead.
Carolina began to show signs of offense at the nine-minute mark of the period when they crashed the net, sending a trio of shots on goaltender Curtis Joseph from point blank range. However, "Cujo" was in great position, cutting down the angle on each shots and keeping Coyotes up by one.
Just over 11-minutes into the opening frame, the Hurricanes and Coyotes traded minor penalties when Carolina's Ryan Bayda (high-sticking) and Phoenix's Yanic Perreault (tripping) headed to the box just six seconds apart.
Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney came within inches of tying the game with seven minutes remaining in the first as he fired a shot from the slot that was stopped, but sent a rebound back to Whitney, who sent a second shot on goal, which slid through the legs of Joseph, through the crease and into the corner.
Late in the first, Coyotes forward Dave Scatchard was called for tripping, giving the Hurricanes a late power play. However, the best scoring opportunity would come for Phoenix when captain Shane Doan grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone, raced in on goal and blasted a shot on goal, which Ward stopped with a stacked pad save.
The final moments of the period would run off the clock as the Coyotes headed off the ice after 20-minutes of play with a one-goal lead.
The Coyotes would need just 26-seconds of the second period to double their lead as defenseman Ed Jovanovski hammered a shot from the top of the right face-off circle that tipped a stick en-route to the Carolina net before sailing over the left glove-hand of Ward and into the net, putting Phoenix on top by the score of 2-0.
At 3:00 of the second, Carolina would get their first man-advantage of the period when Coyotes forward Jeremy Roenick was sent to the box for hooking. The Phoenix penalty-killing unit went to work keeping the high-powered Hurricanes attack in check for the duration of the penalty to Roenick, allowing the Coyotes to return to full strength with a two-goal lead.
Midway through the second, Owen Nolan had a great chance to put the Coyotes up by three goals when a centering pass in the Carolina zone from Yanic Perreault, intended for Fredrik Sjostrom, was stopped and sent back towards the blueline where Nolan grabbed the puck and snapped a shot on goal and into the mid-section of Ward.
Carolina had a great scoring chance at 11:45 if the period when forward Chad LaRose was sent into the Phoenix zone on a breakaway. LaRose made a fake to the forehand before drawing the puck back to his backhand and lifting the puck over the stick of Joseph. Fortunately, the puck hit squarely off the left goal post and ricocheted away from the net, preserving the two-goal lead.
Shortly after the breakaway by LaRose, Carolina's Scott Walker rushed in on partial-breakaway as well, but was unable to keep control of the puck and as a result, would never be able to get a shot off.
Oleg Saprykin had a great chance at the left side of net near the 15-minute mark when hew took three swipes at the puck, all of which were met by the left leg pad of Ward and kept out of the Hurricanes net.
Phoenix would continue stifle the Hurricanes offensive attack as the second period concluded with the Coyotes leading by the score of 2-0.
Just over four minutes into the final period, Mike Zigomanis began what looked like a promising rush into the Carolina zone, but when he tried to send a pass back to the point, he failed to make full contact on his pass, sending the puck only feet away where the Hurricanes were able to regain control and clear the zone.
At 10:37 of the third, the Coyotes handed the Hurricanes another power play opportunity when Nolan was assessed a minor penalty for hooking. Playing a man down didn't shake the Coyotes confidence as they puck was constantly cleared from the Phoenix zone until such time as Nolan could return to the ice.
With just under six and-a-half minute to play in regulation, Joseph made a tough save at the right side of the net on a shot from Brind'Amour and kept Whitney from grabbing a hold of a rebound.
Hurricanes forward Justin Williams wiped out the advantage that came from pulling Ward for an extra attacker when he took a cross-checking penalty at 19:00 of the third period. Despite playing five-on-five hockey without a goaltender, Carolina did manage to generate one final scoring chance when Whitney tried to stuff the puck in from the right side of the net. However, "Cujo" was not about to let a late burst of energy spoil his night as he kept the puck out and held on for his 49th career shutout and 2-0 win over Carolina.