The Phoenix Coyotes came into the week of February 26th on a hot streak, winning seven out of their last eight games. They started the week taking on their division rival, the Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes came out of the box slow and found themselves down 3-0 after one period. But games aren’t ultimately decided after one period and the Coyotes rallied back for a 5-4 victory after a shootout.
“After we came back and played well in the second (period). We got ourselves back in the game,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “So basically we just said ‘they won the first, we won the second, who’s going to win the third?’ We ended up getting the points.”
Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan each scored a pair of goals to send the game to overtime. After a scoreless overtime period, the Coyotes eventually won after a shootout.
“We didn’t have the start we wanted,” Vrbata said. “We knew that they would come out hard and they did. We were flat in the first (period) but after the first we talked in the dressing room about how we wanted to make a comeback… (It was) a big win, a big two points.”
On February 23rd the Coyotes hosted the Calgary Flames at Jobing.com Arena and like their previous game Phoenix came out cold and found themselves down to 2-0 after one period. But like Tuesday’s game against the Kings the Coyotes rallied back and won 4-3 after another shootout.
“That’s two games in a row we haven’t had a very good start, and the resiliency of the team right now is impressive…,” Whitney said. “Our group works hard right through til the end.”
Daymond Langkow and Doan each scored a goal in the second period to tie up the game at 2-2. Ray Whitney scored in the third period for a 3-2 lead but the Flames’ Olli Jokinen scored with 1:46 in regulation to send the game to overtime. After a scoreless overtime the Coyotes garnered another victory after a shootout. It was the Coyotes’ fourth straight win.
“We’re all smiles and happy right now because we keep finding ways to win,” Doan said. “It might not be pretty and it might not be the way coaches have it drawn up at the beginning, but we’ve found ways to come back.”
The Coyotes headed north to Edmonton on February 25th to take on the Oilers. Unlike the prior two contests Phoenix came out quickly and had a 2-0 lead after the first period. Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith stopped 21-22 shots in a 3-1 victory.
The win improved their season record to 32-21-9 (73) and in February they have won 10 of 11 games. The Coyotes are currently in first place in the Pacific Division and are in third place in the Western Conference.
“We talked about making February a big month for us and it has been,” Doan said. “We’ve taken advantage of being at home a little bit more and having some time to rest. We know March is going to be a tough grind.”
News & Notes:
From Elias: Radim Vrbata scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season to help the Coyotes overcome a 3-0 deficit and beat the Kings in a shootout, 5-4. It’s the first time that Vrbata has scored 30 goals in one season in his 10-year NHL career. Vrbata hit the 30-goal mark in the Coyotes’ 60th game. The last Phoenix player to score 30 goals in one season so quickly was Keith Tkachuk in 1997-98, when he did it in the team’s 48th game.
2/22/12: The Phoenix Coyotes acquired Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goalie Curtis McElhinney, a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
2/23/12: The Coyotes assigned Matt Watkins to the Portland Pirates.
2/26/12: The Coyotes assigned Alexandre Bolduc and David Rundbland to the Portland Pirates.