GLENDALE, Ariz. – The calendar read March 4. But, it was Groundhog Day at Jobing.com Arena.
Two nights after the Phoenix Coyotes cooled off the red-hot Anaheim Ducks with a 5-4 shootout victory on home ice, the same two teams returned for the rematch – and played almost the exact same game with the exact same result.
Again, nine goals were scored – in the exact same sequence as Saturday. Again, the Ducks blew leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 and wound up in a shootout. And again, the Coyotes overcame Anaheim's stacked deck of individual skill to prevail in the shootout, this time on Oliver Ekman-Larsson's goal in the fifth round to post another 5-4 win.
"We play them again Wednesday (in Anaheim) and I'll take another one if it means two more points," said defenseman Keith Yandle, who collected his 200th National Hockey League point with a second-period goal. "We had a few more shooters in the shootout, but otherwise it was looking in a mirror.
"The biggest thing was answering when they scored. We stayed positive. If you get down mentally, a team like that will bury you."
The win jumped the Coyotes from ninth place all the way to fourth in the skin-tight Western Conference playoff race with 25 points. They are still eight points behind the Ducks, but the last three days have been a confidence boost.
"That's a very good team and 5-4 is not our usual game plan," Phoenix center Antoine Vermette said. "But we found a way to fight and keep pace. It's a good sign that we can step outside our style and find a way to get points."
Mike Smith made 27 saves during play and stopped Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Nick Bonino in the shootout, allowing one to Ryan Getzlaf. Jonas Hiller made 36 saves for Anaheim during regulation and overtime and stopped Mikkel Boedker, Vermette and Shane Doan in the shootout, but Steve Sullivan scored in the second round before Ekman-Larsson tallied the clincher off the right post.
One thing did change Monday. Anaheim's big guns -- Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan and Selanne – who were a combined minus-9 with one point in the loss here Saturday – were much more active in the rematch.
Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, Perry had a goal and an assist and Ryan gave the Ducks their second lead of the third period with a goal. Matt Belesky also scored for the Ducks, who came to town 15-3-1, but suffered two setbacks in 48 hours.
Vermette, Yandle, Doan and Michael Stone scored for Phoenix. Stone's goal, the fifth in a span of 7:57 between the second and third period, tied it 4-4 with 12:11 left in regulation and forced another overtime.
"We have flashes where we are playing really well and other times where we tend to drift," Getzlaf said. "Every time we went out and did something in a positive way, we took a step back. We have a little work to do."
The Ducks started fast with eight of the first nine shots and the first goal. Beleskey, playing with Getzlaf and Perry for the injured Kyle Palmieri, took a Getzlaf pass in the slot and used a Perry screen to beat Smith at 10:12.
The Coyotes uncharacteristically lost 16 of 27 faceoffs in the first period, but won a big one early in the second. Vermette won an attacking zone faceoff and went to the net as Ekman-Larsson let a shot go from the point. Hiller stopped it, but the rebound was waiting for Vermette to pound home at the 59-second mark. It was Vermette's sixth goal of the season and the 150th of his career.
A few minutes later, Hiller air-mailed a puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty and the Coyotes cashed in. Yandle's shot from the point deflected off an Anaheim skater and dipped under Hiller for a power-play goal at 6:34. For Yandle, who has four goals and 13 points in his past 14 games against the Ducks, the goal was his 200th NHL point.
The Coyotes got another late power-play chance, but an opportunity turned into late-period disaster. Perry broke up a Yandle pass and the bouncing puck sent Getzlaf down the ice alone. Getzlaf picked out the far corner from the left circle and put it past Smith with 7.8 seconds left in the period. It was the first shorthanded goals scored by Anaheim and the first allowed by Phoenix all year.
Even at 2-2, the game was just getting started.
Anaheim took its first lead 1:55 into the third period on the power play, when Getzlaf wristed a shot toward the net that Perry deflected in the slot past a helpless Smith at 1:55. The 3-2 lead lasted 12 seconds.
Ex-Duck Kyle Chipchura corralled a puck in the neutral zone and fed Doan, who pinged the post behind Hiller for a huge milestone goal. Doan not only collected his 800th career point, he passed Keith Tkachuk for second place on the all-time franchise goals list with the 324th goal as a Coyote.
"That was a big goal for us, to fall behind in the third and come right back," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "As soon as they scored, everyone on the bench was talking about getting it right back. I give our team credit for fighting."
But the see-saw affair continued. At 6:31, Rostislav Klesla coughed up a puck in his own corner, and Bonino found Ryan all alone in front of the crease for a point-blank goal. The Ducks had their second lead of the period, but it didn't last much longer than the first.
Just 1:18 later, Chipchura smothered an Anaheim clearing attempt in the Phoenix zone and pushed it to Stone at the point. His low shot found its way past Hiller to ensure it would again take a shootout to decide the match.
"You can't (cough up leads) and expect to win in this game. It's just not going to happen," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's four times in two games we take a lead (in the third period) and they score within five minutes, a lot of times within a minute. If we want to be a good team, we better learn how to do this."