By: Chad Lynch
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
& Getty Images/Doug Pensinger
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes dropped their second game in as many nights with a 6-4 loss in Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche came of the gate charging at the Coyotes and at 1:08 of the opening period, they used their aggressive play to take the first lead of the game. On the play, Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek had the puck in the neutral zone and as he tried to move the puck from his backhand to his forehand, and surging Alex Tanguay, stole the puck from the Coyotes defenseman, raced in all alone on goaltender Philippe Sauve and then blasted a shot through his legs for a 1-0 Colorado lead.
With a little over 15-minutes to play in the opening period, the Avalanche nearly made it a two-goal game when they had a two-on-one rush into the Phoenix zone, but a diving play of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, was able to break-up the scoring opportunity and send the puck back up ice.
Phoenix received the first power play of the game at 5:46 when Colorado captain Joe Sakic was sent to the box for holding. The Avalanche were able to kill off the first 1:39 of the penalty, before Colorado's Karlis Skrastins was called for holding, giving the Coyotes 21-seconds of five-on-three hockey. The Coyotes were unable to get a sustained attack going with the two-man advantage, but just seconds after the Sakic penalty expired, defenseman Rob Blake was sent to the box for tripping, giving Phoenix 1:36 of five-on-three hockey.
With the extended power play, the Coyotes tried to get set-up in the Colorado zone, but simply couldn't get in position to send quality drives to the net and as a result, the Avalanche were able to kill off three consecutive penalties and still hold on to a 1-0 lead.
The table turned again at 9:50 of the first when Phoenix left wing Dave Scatchard was called for hooking. The penalty would prove to be costly as Colorado's Brett Clark finished a two-on-one rush by tipping the puck past Sauve at 11:03 of the period to make it 2-0 contest.
At the same time as Clark was putting the puck into the net, Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris was being called for a penalty. As a result, Colorado not only took a 2-0 lead, but also went back on the power play as Morris headed to the box. This time, the Phoenix penalty-killing unit was strong in their own end and did not allow the big guns of Colorado to go to work around the net, keeping the score at 2-0.
In keeping with the theme of the period, the two clubs combined for five (Phoenix -3, Colorado -2) minor penalties over the next ten minutes, resulting in one five-on-three advantage for the Coyotes (43-seconds) and two five-on-three power plays for the Avalanche; the last of which would hurt the Coyotes once again as Fredrik Sjostrom and Zbynek Michalek were huddled in the penalty box, Colorado's Milan Hejduk grabbed a puck at the right side of the net and slammed it into the open net for a 3-0 Colorado lead as the opening 20-minutes of play came to an end.
Just as they did in the first period, the Avalanche struck early when Brett Clark's shot from the point was redirected in front of the Phoenix net by Ian Laperriere and sent past Sauve, giving Colorado a 4-0 lead.
With just over 15-minutes to play in the second period, Sauve made a great stop on Hejduk when he slid across the crease from his right to his left to keep the puck out of the net.
The Avalanche made it 5-0 at 7:40 of the second when Andrew Brunette took a rebound off the right goal-post and was able to stuff it into the net for his 24th goal of the season. Brunette's goal came on the power play as Mike Ricci was in the box serving a holding call, taken at 6:34 of the period.
At 8:57 of the second, the Coyotes fell behind by the score of 6-0 when Pierre Turgeon scooped up a turnover behind the Phoenix net and sent the puck to the front of the net where it ricocheted of the skate of defenseman Paul Mara and into the Coyotes goal. After Turgeon's goal, the Coyotes made a goaltending change, pulling Sauve in favor of David LeNeveu.
With 44 seconds left in the stanza, the Coyotes finally made a mark on the score board when Derek Morris' shot from the point was tipped in the slot by Mike Ricci and re-directed past netminder Jose Theodore to make it a 6-1 game.
That would conclude the scoring in the second period and Phoenix headed to the locker room after two periods of play, trailing the Avalanche 6-1.
In the first half of the third period, the Avalanche were once again, generating the offensive pressure and taking the game to the Coyotes in their own zone. Fortunately, Phoenix was able to hold off the aggressive attack and LeNeveu turned aside every shot thrown his way to keep the Coyotes from falling even further behind.
Just before the mid-way point in the period, Coyotes captain Shane Doan drilled Alex Tanguay with a shoulder, deep in the Phoenix zone. While the hit was completely legal and clean, the Avalanche took exception to Doan. On his very next shift, Doan was sought out by Colorado's Ian Laperriere; who dropped the gloves and engaged Doan in the first fight of the game. While he was tied up along the boards, Doan connected with a series of right hands before he threw Laperriere to the ice in a sign of victory.
The Coyotes cut the Colorado lead to 6-2 with 7:56 left in the third when Derek Morris released a shot from just inside the blue line of the Colorado zone that deflected off an Avalanche player and made its way past Theodore.
Exactly one-minute later, Phoenix was able to cut the lead in half as Theodore couldn't control Boyd Devereaux's blast from the point, and the puck fell to the ice behind the Colorado netminder. Seeing an opportunity, Mike Comrie rushed in and swept the loose puck into the net to make it a 6-3 game.
With 1:35 to play in regulation, Coyotes rookie Josh Gratton recorded his first career NHL goal when he tried to center a pass from behind the Avalanche net, only to see it go off a Colorado defender in front and slide into the net, for a 6-4 game.
Phoenix would pull LeNeveu from the net with a minute to play, but they just couldn't get enough pressure on the Colorado goal and the game came to an end with the Coyotes dropping a 6-4 decision.
SAPRYKIN STAYS IN PHOENIX
On Tuesday, Phoenix forward Oleg Saprykin did not travel with the team to Denver for the Coyotes contest with the Colorado Avalanche. Saprykin, who suffered a minor knee sprain in Monday's game against San Jose, is currently listed a day-to-day.
Coyotes center Dave Scatchard returned to the Phoenix line up on Tuesday night after missing the last six games due to bronchitis.