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Coyotes finish road trip with win against Devils

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Phoenix Coyotes came east for three games this week, hoping to build on their small cushion for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Coyotes boarded their flight back to the desert Thursday night with five out of six points in the bag after a 3-2 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Phoenix defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and lost in overtime to the New York Rangers on Monday after blowing a two-goal lead.

The Coyotes also blew a two-goal lead Thursday, but Thomas Greiss made 26 saves, including three in overtime, and Mikkel Boedker scored the lone goal in the shootout to ensure Phoenix got the extra point. Greiss has won two straight starts since Mike Smith went down with a lower-body injury during the 4-3 overtime loss to New York.

"It's huge," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "We were disappointed obviously that we got that lead in the Rangers game with three minutes to go. We'd like to get those points. But we didn't trail on the entire trip. We were able to find ways to get points on this trip."

Instead of thinking about holding on to the second wild-card spot, the Coyotes can turn their focus to Saturday, when they have a chance to move past the Minnesota Wild into the first wild-card position. They play the Wild at Arena.

Minnesota has 85 points to Phoenix's 84, but the Wild have lost two in a row and are 3-5-4 since a five-game winning streak that bridged the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The Coyotes and Wild have each played 74 games and have 30 regulation/overtime wins.

"Our game, playing well, will get us one of those spots," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "If we play the way we can and the way we hope to; we just want to get ourselves in the playoffs."

The Devils picked up a point in the standings because they came back from down 2-0; they are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with three teams to jump and nine games remaining. New Jersey is 0-9 in the shootout this season, with one goal. Damien Brunner, Ryane Clowe and Patrik Elias were the unsuccessful shooters Thursday.

Martin Brodeur made 25 saves; he is 0-3-1 in his past four starts.

"It's frustrating that we didn't get the extra point, but I thought we played a good game," said Clowe, who scored with 0.3 seconds left in the second period to cut Phoenix's lead to 2-1. "Unfortunately, we lost again in the shootout, but as far as how we need to play, O-zone time, puck possession and grind time, I thought we were good. I thought our power play could have got us one [Thursday] and it would have been the difference."

New Jersey's fifth-ranked power play went 0-for-4 against Phoenix's 27th-ranked penalty kill. Brunner and Jon Merrill had shots ring off the post.

The Devils again were left wondering about the points they left on the board because of their inability to score in the shootout.

"It's in your head," Clowe said. "You need to break that goose egg. Eventually we're going to score first and give ourselves a sigh of relief, but when you make it tense and keep coming down to score, you're done. It's tough. It's hard on the goalies when they give up one goal."

Phoenix got a goal and an assist each from forward Kyle Chipchura and defenseman Chris Summers in regulation before the Devils mounted the comeback that got them a point.

Clowe made it 2-1 when Merrill's pass hit off his left shoulder and redirected into the net just before the end of the second period. Clowe had fallen into the crease because he was hit the back by Jeff Halpern. The goal was reviewed to determine if the puck legally crossed the goal line before time had expired, and replay confirmed the call on the ice that it was a good goal.

New Jersey forward Adam Henrique's team-leading 24th goal of the season tied the game at 2-2 with 9:38 left in the third period.

"Our guys really left everything on the ice," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We played a [heck] of a game. We could have won that gave at four or five different points. We threw everything at them. Their goalie was very good, and the shootout obviously is what it is."

Phoenix took a 2-0 lead a little more than three minutes before Clowe scored. Summers scored his second goal in his 11th game of the season with a low shot from the point through a screening Brandon McMillan.

Chipchura's fourth goal of the season, and his second of the road trip, gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the first period. He also had a goal and an assist against the Rangers.

The Coyotes had to play the majority of the final two periods without forward David Moss, who sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and left the game after attempting to play a shift midway through the second.

Tippett said he thought his team dug in and responded well after Clowe scored. Tippett said he liked the Coyotes' start to the third period and thought they were even better after Henrique scored. He was obviously relieved by the performance Greiss gave filling in for Smith, who will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Friday.

"[Greiss], when he's played this year, he's given the guys a boost," Tippett said. "They trust him. They like him. They talk about how hard he is to score on in practice. It's not as if we're overprotecting somebody because we're not sure what we're going to get. It's back to our same game and Greiss will give us the solid goaltending we need."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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