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Coyotes beat Flyers 3-2 for eighth win in a row

by Mike G. Morreale /
PHILADELPHIA -- On the eve of becoming the franchise leader for games played, Phoenix captain Shane Doan celebrated a tad early when he connected for a power-play goal 2:41 into overtime to give the red-hot Coyotes their eighth straight victory, a 3-2 decision over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was tremendous throughout, turning aside 37 shots, including 14 in the third period. The Russian-born goalie has now stopped 227 of 240 shots in leading Phoenix to eight straight victories -- six of those wins have been by one goal and five by the score of 3-2.
"It's funny how this works," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We had games like this where we were the one giving up the power play in overtime and then losing. Now, in the second half, we have found a way to win some of these games."
The Coyotes certainly considered the triumph a major notch in the win column too.
"This was an emotional win for us," Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall said. "We treated this game like a Game 1 of what could be Game 1 of a Stanley Cup Final. So, for us, it was a good test to see where we're at with a good team out East and we're right up there. When you get good goaltending and put up a solid effort, we know we could play with anybody."
Claude Giroux forced overtime for the Flyers by scoring with just 1:13 remaining in regulation and Sergei Bobrovsky pulled for an extra attacker. Giroux fought off a check by Eric Belanger low in the left circle and retrieved his own rebound before lining a shot past Bryzgalov.
Tippett had a hunch Doan would rebound after his team allowed the equalizer.
"It was a heck of a shot," Tippett said. "On their tying goal in the last minute, I think he felt like he should have gotten the puck out along the wall and he didn't get it out. So he was a guy who was hungry to redeem himself and fortunately, he did."
With Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the box for hooking, the Coyotes wound up with a 2-on-1 down low and Doan, stationed near the left dot, blasted home Radim Vrbata's pass from the right circle for his 14th of the season. It was the second time during the streak that the Coyotes won on a power-play goal in overtime. Doan was actually given extra time to skate in on Bobrovsky after a Flyers defenseman lost his stick.
"It went short side and I was looking at the D-man because he didn't have his stick so I knew I could creep in a little closer to the net," Doan said. "Without him having that stick, it gave up more ice so that I could get closer and I just tried to get it on net and above his pad."
Bryzgalov, making a career-high 19th consecutive start, played a key role in denying the Flyers on five power-play chances for the game, stopping all 10 shots in his direction during the man disadvantage.
Phoenix trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes on a first-period goal by Ville Leino, but rallied for two goals in the third to open a 2-1 lead.
"I feel good, especially when you're winning … you don't feel too much tiredness," Bryzgalov said through an interpreter. "But mentally, I start feeling it a little bit. Physically, yeah, I feel great, but mentally I start a little bit get tired."
Perhaps Tippett will turn to backup Jason LaBarbera on Wednesday when the Coyotes visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that game, Doan will officially become the longest-tenured Coyote as he plays in his 1,099th career game, surpassing former captain Teppo Numminen.
"We hung around the game and they pressed pretty hard there and, starting in the second, we took a couple of penalties and they really hemmed us in for a long time," Tippett said. "We got our legs under us and we said, going into the third, we were one shot away and Bryz was giving us a chance to get points. We got some breaks in the third and ended up getting a couple of points."
The Coyotes pulled even 2:44 into the third when Belanger finished off a great feed from Mikkel Boedker. The former first-round pick skated hard down right wing and pulled up behind the net before threading a pass to Belanger down the slot for a shot past Bobrovsky (26 saves). The goal assured that the Flyers would remain the only team in the League without a shutout this season.
Taylor Pyatt's goal at 10:30 gave the Coyotes a 2-1 edge. Pyatt's slap shot from the left circle knuckled in on Bobrovsky before deflecting off the goalie's skate and into the top corner of the cage.
Ville Leino scored his first goal in seven games 6:24 into the first period on a picturesque tip off a shot from the left point by Matt Carle to give the Flyers the lead.
For the second straight game, the Flyers lost a defenseman. This time, it was Oskars Bartulis, who was actually filling in for injured defender Sean O'Donnell (lower-body). O'Donnell left Sunday's victory over the New York Rangers in the first period.
"It's tough since we prided ourselves all year on playing with four lines and six defensemen and when you have that out of your lineup, you're a little bit of a depleted team I guess," Flyers captain Mike Richards said.
Bartulis was hit hard into the end boards by former Flyer Upshall just 17 seconds into the second. Upshall rammed his shoulder into Bartulis, who appeared off-balance at the time of contact to the right of Bobrovsky.
"Oskars is just standing there minding his own business. It was a late hit," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told reporters after the game. "I guess I got a little bit of a problem with it, yeah. It's not really like Scottie to do that. Things happen."
Upshall, who played three seasons with the Flyers (2006-09) before his trade to Phoenix, was sent to the box for boarding on the play.
"I was going hard to the net and couldn't really see where the puck was," Upshall said. "I didn't really go to intentionally hit him or drive him into the boards. I think he was off balance. I've been off balance before and you can't plant your footing. It was just a routine shoulder-to-shoulder, going hard to the net. I hope he's alright."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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