The Phoenix Coyotes jumped out to an early lead over the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and never looked back as they hung on for a 6-3 win at Jobing.com Arena.
Defenseman Michael Stone found the back of the net on the power play and, just 58 seconds later, center Martin Hanzal bounced one in off of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Lightning were able to counter slightly, but the Coyotes didn’t let them back in to the game. Tampa Bay scored late to make the game 5-3, but an empty-net goal from Lauri Korpikoski iced the game for Phoenix. The Coyotes are still undefeated in regulation at Jobing.com Arena this season.
In all, six Coyotes found the back of the net.
The game also featured two milestones as both Connor Murphy (Phoenix) and J.T. Brown (Tampa Bay) scored their first career NHL goals.
After gaining an early lead, the Coyotes didn’t take their foot off the gas. Phoenix has allowed several teams to come back and force overtime, but that wasn’t happening Saturday. They kept up with the forecheck and continually caused problems for the Lightning.
The Coyotes wanted to cut down on the amount of shots that made it to goalie Mike Smith after the absolute shelling he took in both St. Louis and Chicago. Mission accomplished. Smith saw a much more manageable 30 shots. Eleven blocked shots certainly helped as well.
The Coyotes lost defenseman David Schlemko to an injury during the second period. He did not return to the game. Head coach Dave Tippett said he “re-aggravated a lower-body injury.” If he misses more time, the Coyotes would be without Derek Morris, Zbynek Michaelk and Schlemko on the blue line because of injury.
• Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy scored his first career NHL goal in his first NHL game in the second period. Lightning forward J.T. Brown countered whi his first NHL goal just seconds later.
• Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone has scored a career-high six goals this season. His previous record of five was set last season.
• Three different Coyotes posted their sixth goal of the season on Saturday: Stone, center Mike Ribeiro and center Martin Hanzal.
• The Coyotes were without defenseman Derek Morris (injured reserve) yet again as well as defensemen Zbynek Michaelk (injured) and Rostislav Klesla (healthy scratch). As a result, Phoenix used a lot of young players. The average age of the Coyotes blueline was 23.5 years.
He Said It
“That’s a big two points. You look at [the Lightning], they’re 7-0 against the West. The one point somebody made in the room before was they’ve taken points away from teams in the West. If we get these points, it’s two more that other teams didn’t get.” – Head coach Dave Tippett said of stopping Tampa Bay, the top team in the Eastern Conference.
The Coyotes will enjoy a long break until their next game. They host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Nov. 21. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Jobing.com Arena.