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Coyotes top Flames, extend points streak to seven

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Mike Ribeiro was brought to the desert to add some spark to the Phoenix Coyotes' sputtering offense, the veteran center said it would take about 10 games for him to settle in.

Now 10 games into the season, Ribeiro and the Coyotes are already humming right along.

Ribeiro scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season -- his second of the night at 5:47 of the third period would be the game-winner -- and Phoenix goalie Mike Smith made 22 saves as the Coyotes beat the Calgary Flames 4-2 Tuesday night.

The Coyotes improved to 6-2-2 in extending their points streak to seven games (5-0-2), and Ribeiro has at least a point in each game during the streak. In the last three home games, Ribeiro has five goals, including four in the last two games, and the Coyotes have the offensive weapon they were seeking when they signed Ribeiro to a five-year, $22 million free-agent deal this summer.

"[Calgary is] not an easy team to play. They make you skate 200 feet all the time, but we stuck together and we got the plays we needed," said Ribeiro, who now has 12 goals and 27 points in 31 career games against the Flames. "I'm enjoying playing with [Mikkel Boedker and David Moss], and we were able to break them down with the forecheck and open up the ice a little."

After three scoreless games and two Phoenix losses, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett took Ribeiro off a line with Shane Doan and inserted him on a more hardworking line with Boedker and Moss. Since then, Ribeiro has five goals and nine points, with seven of those points coming on either game-tying or go-ahead goals, including three game-winners.

"We had to get him out of the stigma of the 'you're the guy now' thing," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We don't just win with one guy; we win with everybody."

Radim Vrbata opened the Phoenix scoring with his fifth goal and Rob Klinkhammer iced the game with his fourth, an empty-netter with six seconds left. Keith Yandle added a pair of assists for the Coyotes, who have scored 16 goals in their first four home games.

"It wasn't our most solid 60-minute effort, but we did what it took to win," Yandle said. "We obviously let them back in the game a little bit, but we dug deep and got the two points."

Down 2-0, former Coyotes right wing Lee Stempniak cut the Flames' deficit in half late in the second period with his third goal.

The Flames managed five shots in the first 30 minutes of play before picking up their play.

Joe Colborne tied the game for Calgary early in the third. Jiri Hudler notched an assist on the game-tying goal to give him at least one point in all nine Calgary games and 12 overall.

But Smith shut down Calgary from there to send the Flames on to play the Dallas Stars on Thursday with a 1-3 record in the first four stops of their five-game trip.

Joey MacDonald made 29 saves for the Flames on Tuesday.

"It was one of those games where you feel like you should be winning, and you are winning, but you don't feel like you're winning. You just have to hang in there," Tippett said. "Once they got it to 2-2, we jumped up and started playing again. It wasn't a masterpiece, let's put it this way."

Both teams played without their captains. Shane Doan was unable to complete the morning skate due to a lower-body injury sustained in the Coyotes' win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, while the Flames' Mark Giordano came off early in the pregame skate due to a lower-body injury from Calgary's 3-2 win Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

The first period was sluggish on both sides, featuring a total of two shots in the first nine minutes. But when Shane O'Brien was called for holding the stick of Coyotes left wing Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix cashed in on the power play. Vrbata's goal off a Yandle feed was the 200th of his career. All five this season have come in Phoenix's first four home games.

The Flames finished with only three shots in the first period and had five at the midway point of the second period, when Phoenix doubled its lead. Boedker fluttered a shot toward the Calgary net that Ribeiro deflected down and past MacDonald at 10:19.

Just as it seemed the Coyotes were talking control, the Flames pushed back.

Calgary picked up some momentum with a later power play and had six shots in the final 10 minutes of the period, finally breaking through. Kris Russell was set up by TJ Galiardi for a shot that Smith stopped, but Stempniak gobbled up the rebound that slid up the slot and put it home at 18:26 to put the Flames back in the game at 2-1.

Then, exactly three minutes into the third, Colborne raced down the ice with a loose puck, shielded defender Derek Morris with his body and slipped a backhander by Smith to tie the game.

The tie would last just 2:47, when Ribeiro was at the left post waiting for a nifty Yandle pass he roofed to put the Coyotes up to stay.

"We came back strong late in the second period and got the game even, but it was too little too late," Stempniak said. "It's a good sign that we're able to come back, but we didn't generate enough shots early."

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