Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes played the first game of a four-game swing that takes them from Carolina to Columbus.
He had to be happy with certain parts of the team's performance on Friday night, as the 5-2 loss didn't tell the whole story. The Hurricanes scored late to make it 4-2 and into an empty net to finish it off at 5-2.
He wanted more scoring from his second tier, needing to take pressure off of Olli Jokinen and especially Shane Doan
. Doan did score his 11th goal in another strong game, while Kevin Porter notched his fourth of the season.Derek Morris
only played 7:54 before leaving with an undisclosed injury, Gretzky saying after the game he has been "banged up" and had a previous ankle injury, to go along with a finger injury.
Gretzky found a solid pairing in Keith Yandle
and Ed Jovanovski, who had a strong game, especially down the stretch when they were needing to get on the board and tie the score.
Yandle continues to make great strides. He is strong on the puck, making plays in both ends and has a presence about him. He grew up idolizing Ray Bourque, he picked up a few things along the way. All of them good. Like taking pucks off the boards, bringing it to a better angle and getting pucks to the net. He has great hockey sense.
Jovanovski needs to just play the game, move his feet, get in on the play, get a good hit in early and then let the game come to him. He is too good of a player to be playing the way he has in most games this season.
This was a game that he had legs, and that is everything in this day and age.
As a whole, Gretzky's squad has to read situations better in the defensive zone, and be stronger on loose pucks. They were loose in front of their net on this night, and saw Eric Staal snap out of an eight-game goal-scoring drought, with three goals. He wanted pucks in the net more than the Coyotes were willing to defend.
The Coyotes did create plenty of good chances and never gave up, in fact they should have had a power play with around five minutes to go, as Staal got his stick between the legs of Porter, clearly an infraction, and the score 3-2 in favor of the 'Canes.
Enver Lisin was recalled from the AHL and is likely to be in the lineup in Philly on Saturday.
The Coyotes can't score goals and could use a spark, even if it is short term.
Mikael Tellqvist will be in goal against the Flyers as he played a great game last year there in a win.
From there, it is on to NY for a rare Monday game for the Coyotes and the second game coached by Gretzky at MSG, as he got a win in his first game there last season.