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Phoenix Coyotes 2, Vancouver Canucks 3 FINAL @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks finally found a way to put the puck past Curtis Joseph at even strength: Put him in the net first.

Matt Cooke scored a disputed goal after Joseph was knocked into the net 4:21 into the third period, giving Vancouver a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.

Joseph, who had stymied the Canucks all night, stopped Ed Jovanovski on a breakaway, but momentum carried Joseph into the net and Jovanovski on top of it while a charging Cooke knocked the puck in just as the net was dislodged. Referee Michael McGeough waved the goal off, but the call was overturned after a lengthy video review.

``I didn't know if it was going to count,'' said Jovanovski, who also scored on the power play. ``I was pushed into the net, but it wasn't dislodged. I saw the puck go by me. I asked Matt after and he said it went in before it came off.''

Replays appeared to show the net was lifted off the ice but wasn't knocked completely off the pegs before Cooke scored.

``The net wasn't off,'' Cooke said. ``I pushed the net off myself because I got shoved in by the man who took me into the net. I saw it go in before the net went off.''

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky argued intensely after the decision was announced, but to no avail.

``We were questioning both the player going into the goalie and the net coming off the mooring,'' said Gretzky, who lost his coaching debut in Vancouver on Oct. 5.

``I thought when the net comes off any certain amount, the play automatically sort of ends and I was told by the referees the net has to come completely off,'' Gretzky added. ``That's the rule and I was wrong. I just wasn't sure about the traffic in front of Curtis before the actual goal and I don't know the rule on that to be quite honest.''

Joseph, denied his 400th career win despite a spectacular 35-save performance, said it could have gone either way.

``It's too late to argue it now, but if you're a Canucks fan he went hard to the net on a breakaway and if you're a Coyote fan you claim interference,'' he said.

Jovanovski and Nolan Baumgartner scored their first goals of the season - both on the power play - as Vancouver won its fourth straight.

Keith Ballard and Geoff Sanderson scored for the Coyotes, who failed to sweep a three-game swing through Canada after beating Edmonton and Calgary.

Phoenix had a chance to tie it for a third time, but couldn't convert a lengthy 5-on-3 shortly after Cooke's goal. Captain Shane Doan hit the post with 43 seconds left, but that was as close as the Coyotes came despite a power play for the final 1:27 and pulling Joseph for an extra attacker.

Phoenix failed to convert any of their eight power plays against a Vancouver team than came in ranked 29th on the penalty kill.

``You get a performance like that from your goaltender you expect to win,'' Doan said. ``He played more than good enough to steal two points for us if our power play had been good enough.''

Joseph kept the Coyotes in it early with 18 first-period saves, including point-bank stops off Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin and a diving glove save to rob Mattias Ohlund from scoring into an open net - all in the first five minutes.

Only Jovanovski, with a top-of-the-crease deflection of a nifty pass by Markus Naslund, was able to put the puck past Joseph, who added two saves off hard-shooting defenseman Sami Salo during a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in the first.

``Curtis had to stand on his head to keep us in the game early,'' Gretzky said. ``He's been like that all year. He's been outstanding.''

Ballard tied it 2:21 into the second period.

Baumgartner restored the lead with another power-play goal - Vancouver's eighth in three games - midway through the period, but Sanderson, who finished the 2003-04 season with the Canucks, tied it again 71 seconds later.

Sanderson scored his first goal since being acquired from Columbus in an Oct. 8.

Joseph robbed Todd Bertuzzi twice on power plays late in the second and early in the third to keep it tied before the Canucks finally put the puck - and Joseph - into the net.

Notes: Dan Cloutier made 22 saves for the Canucks, who were 2-for-10 on the power play. It was the third straight game Vancouver has had 10 power plays. ... Doan wore a visor after being cut above his left eye by the stick of Edmonton forward Mike Peca on Tuesday. ... Phoenix G Brian Boucher resumed practicing Wednesday and Thursday after injuring his groin during a shootout in the first exhibition game. ... The Coyotes have scored more than two goals just twice this season.

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