When the Phoenix Coyotes
fell behind midway through the third period on a goal that took video replay to confirm, Radim Vrbata
made sure they didn’t let the opportunity to gain two critical points on the road slip away.
Vrbata teamed up with Steven Reinprecht
on the tying goal with 3:11 left in regulation Monday and scored a disputed goal of his own 3:23 into overtime, leading the Coyotes past the Colorado Avalanche
4-3 at Pepsi Center.
“We’re going to hang around,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky
said. “The goal here is to keep improving and win as many games as we can.”
The Coyotes moved into a tie for eighth in the Western Conference with the Nashville Predators
and improved to 2-1-1 on its current five-game road trip, feats made possible by Vrbata’s team-leading 23rd and 24th goals of the season.
Reinprecht, a former Avalanche center who has burned his old team for four goals this season, set up the tying score off an offensive zone faceoff. He intentionally won the draw forward, skated to the puck and passed across the crease to Vrbata, who put it in the open right side of the net.
"I couldn't believe I had the wide open net," Vrbata said. "It was as if the Avalanche stopped playing and all I had to do was tap in the puck."
While there was no questioning that play, Vrbata’s overtime tally left the Colorado coaches and players shaking their heads while the Coyotes celebrated. Vrbata drove to the net and Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj
attempted to fall on the puck as a scrum built up in the crease. Phoenix forward Shane Doan
fell into Budaj and pushed at the puck, and it eventually crossed the goal line right as the referee was about to blow the whistle.
The goal was initially credited to Doan, who claimed the puck did go in off his body.
"There's a big, huge scrum there and I was pushing everything as hard as I can," Doan said.
"The puck went in off me and whoever is laying in front pushing at it. He is trying to bat it one way and I'm trying to bat it the other way."
Avalanche defenseman Brett Clark
described the play as “a judgment call” and said the referee told him in his opinion the puck was still alive.
“I didn’t see the puck and where it was – maybe it was still loose,” Clark said. “We just have to take it as a judgment, and it’s one of those things that happens in a game.”
An animated Joel Quenneville
clearly felt his Avalanche got the raw end of the deal, saying the referee’s intent was to blow the whistle.
“I disagree with the call,” the coach said. “His intention was to blow the puck dead before the puck went in, plus the guy (Doan) jumps on the goalie – interference. I mean, blow the whistle at that time of the game.”
Colorado, which still jumped over the Calgary Flames
and into a tie for fifth with the Anaheim Ducks
, received a second straight two-goal effort from rookie T.J. Hensick, who now has five for the season. The second one gave the Avalanche a 3-2 lead – once it was finally ruled the puck had crossed the line.
On a scramble in front of Phoenix goalie Mikael Tellqvist
, who made 33 saves, Hensick got the puck from Jaroslav Hlinka
at the left post and snapped a shot that crossed the goal line and came quickly back out after hitting the skate of defenseman Keith Ballard
, who had fallen into the net while trying to help Tellqvist out.
Several Avalanche celebrated, but the Coyotes headed back up ice with the puck and played continued for about 90 seconds before the next stoppage allowed the officials to check with the video room in Toronto. Hensick’s goal counted and the clock was reset to show 10:09 remaining in the third.
It was Hensick who started the scoring late in the first period when he tipped a Tyler Arnason
shot on the power play past Tellqvist. Colorado took a 1-0 lead at 17:48, but followed that with back-to-back penalties leading to Peter Mueller
’s slapper from the blue line on a two-man advantage for Phoenix with 59 seconds left to tie the score.
gave the Coyotes their first lead at 5:04 of the second, only to see Ian Laperriere
draw the Avalanche even at 14:49 when he finished a 2-on-1 break with Brad Richardson
Budaj, starting in the absence of Jose Theodore
, turned aside 29 shots. With Theodore ailing, Colorado recalled goalie Michael Wall
from Portland of the American Hockey League.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.