GLENDALE, Ariz. — The scene looked awfully familiar: Weeknight home game, Canadian opponent, black jerseys and a two-goal lead squandered.
But unlike the plot that ultimately determined their fate in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators back on Oct. 15, the Phoenix Coyotes were able to respond with a little third period magic of their own Tuesday night.
Less than three minutes after Calgary Flames center Joe Colborne knotted the contest up at two on a breakaway goal early in the final frame, Phoenix responded with unrelenting pressure in the offensive zone, which led to a beautiful feed from defenseman Keith Yandle to a wide-open Mike Ribeiro.
The first-year Coyote did the rest, breaking the two-all tie with an easy go-ahead tally — his second score of the night — past Flames’ goalie Joey MacDonald, and Phoenix held on for a 4-2 victory.
“It probably wasn’t our most solid 60-minute effort,” Yandle said. “I thought we did what it took to win, but we obviously let them back in the game a little bit. We dug deep and got the two points.”
Ribeiro scored twice for the second consecutive game — a feat which he didn’t achieve once as a member of the Washington Capitals in 2012-13. The 13-year veteran also has a point in each of his last seven games.
“It’s nice not having to play against him,” Yandle said of Ribeiro. “He’s a guy that in years past playing against him, he’s a guy who makes everybody better. The last few games, we’ve been able to find each other. He’s a guy who is going to find you if you’re open, so you’ve got to get there. Same thing, he does a good job of getting open and showing you that he wants the puck. He’s a fun guy to play with.”
The Flames came in fresh off a 3-2 win in Los Angeles — one which featured three power play goals. Tuesday, they were blanked on three man advantages.
“I liked what our penalty kill was doing tonight,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “I think our penalty kill has done a good job here lately. The penalty kill is like anything else, if you can get into a kind of rhythm, you start to feel good about what you’re doing. I really liked what our penalty killers did tonight.”
Mike Smith’s bid for his first shutout of 2013 was denied late in the second period, after former Coyote Lee Stempniak took advantage of a long rebound off a shot from Kris Russell and easily netted the puck over the sprawled out Phoenix netminder.
Since leaving the Coyotes after the 2010-11 season, Stempniak has four points in four games against his former squad.
But Stempniak and Co. didn’t stop there.
After an errant cross ice pass from Derek Morris missed Yandle’s stick early in the third period, Calgary center Jiri Hudler chipped the loose puck out of the Coyotes’ offensive zone and down the ice for Colborne. The fourth-year forward promptly took the pass and flipped a backhander over Smith’s left shoulder for a game-tying goal.
The Coyotes have blown third period leads in three of their last four games.
Captain Shane Doan sat out the contest due to a lower body injury. It was his first scratch in a regular season game since March 25, 2012. Doan played all 48 games in 2012-13 and only missed three of 82 games in 2011-12 due to suspension. The 37-year-old last missed a regular season game because of injury in Nov. 2010, when he sat out seven straight contests due to a similar lower body injury.
“It’s funny how the game just doesn’t feel right,” Tippett said of playing without Doan. “[Kyle] Chipchura jumped down to that line and played pretty well, but it was just kind of a herky-jerky game. Part of that was not having the rhythm of Shane out there.”
HE SAID IT:
“I like to be relaxed, joke around with the guys and keep the room relaxed, not tight or stiff. It took me awhile to get comfortable with all the guys and for them to know me and I guess to like me. Now that we did that and I’m comfortable coming in every day with the boys, it’s fun to come in, work and have fun.” — Center Mike Ribeiro on finally feeling comfortable in the Coyotes’ locker room
– Radim Vrbata’s first period power play goal was the 200th of his NHL career. Of those 200 goals, 122 have been scored as a member of the Coyotes.
– Ribeiro and Vrbata have combined to score 10 goals in 10 games. All 10 goals have come at Jobing.com Arena.
– The Coyotes have collected at least one point in all seven games that Ribeiro has recorded a point, and they’ve won all five games Derek Morris has registered a point in.
– With the win, Phoenix moved to 7-1-0 against Calgary at home dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season.
– Coyotes allowed a season-low three shots in the first period Tuesday. The previous low was six shots, which the team allowed in the first period of its 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders back on Oct. 8.
The Coyotes will look to extend their seven-game point streak Thursday night when they travel to the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Kings. In addition to the point streak, Phoenix will try to extend its road win streak to four games. Last season, the Coyotes were 0-2-0 in their two trips to Tinseltown. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MST, and the Pacific Division showdown can be heard on KMVP 860 AM.