It’s not exactly how Dave Tippett would have liked to have gone in the record books, but the Phoenix Coyotes gave their head coach win No. 165 — tied for most in franchise history with Bob Francis — in dramatic fashion, erasing a three-goal first period deficit en route to a 5-4 shootout win over the Nashville Predators Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.
With Thomas Greiss between the pipes, Phoenix staked Nashville to a three-goal lead after 20 minutes of play, as Matt Hendricks (slap shot from above right circle), Eric Nystrom (recipient of Patric Hornqvist pass right in front of net) and David Legwand (wrist shot from left of the goal on a power play) had no problem beating the Coyotes’ backup netminder.
Tippett’s squad got back into the contest in the second period, as Jordan Szwarz (first career goal on a wrist shot) and Derek Morris (laser from underneath the blue line) beat Predators goalie Carter Hutton to whittle the lead down to 3-2.
After Paul Gaustad beat Greiss four minutes and 15 seconds into the final frame for his second of the year, the Coyotes once again tapped into their third period magic.
Captain Shane Doan registered is second goal in as many games on a beautiful feed on the power play from Mike Ribeiro at the 6:16 mark.
Two minutes later, Doan picked up a loose puck and found Antoine Vermette charging into the Nashville zone from the point. As he came in on goal, Vermette was tripped up by rookie defenseman Seth Jones, but the Coyotes center managed to flip the puck through Hutton’s pads before colliding with the goaltender.
In overtime, Phoenix failed to score on its lone power play opportunity (three shots), and need heroics in the shootout to get its ninth win of 2013.
Greiss stopped all five shots he saw and Mikkel Boedker put the game-winner past Hutton, as the Coyotes survived on Halloween night.
Greiss was by no means the same goaltender who allowed just one goal in a 2-1 victory over the Flyers back on Oct. 10, but when they needed him most he came up big.
In addition to his five stops in the shootout, Greiss had 16 saves in the third period/overtime after allowing the goal to Gaustad.
Derek Morris’ second period goal was his fourth of the year — doubling his total from the previous two years combined.
Phoenix blue liners lead the NHL with 40 points.
While the Coyotes managed to squeak out a win in the shootout, their inability to protect the net continues to be an issue. Coming into the contest, Phoenix had been averaging three goals allowed per contest, a number that increased with Nashville’s four tallies Thursday.
In their first 12 contests, the Predators had only reached the four-goal mark once.
HE SAID IT:
“There’s two things. I think there’s been some soft goals going in. And, we’ve taken some untimely penalties. Add those up and it leads to some chances.” — Coyotes coach Dave Tippett on first period struggles
– Thomas Greiss has now stopped 18-of-20 shootout chances in his career.
– Phoenix’s 9-3-2 record in October is good for its third-best in franchise history.
– With the win, the Coyotes have still yet to lose a game at home in regulation.
– Phoenix now has at least one point in all eight games Derek Morris has recorded a goal or an assist.
The streaking Coyotes — winners of five of their last six — head out on the road to face divisional rival San Jose Saturday night at HP Pavilion Arena. The Sharks (10-1-2) already took down Phoenix back on Oct. 5 by a final of 4-1. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MST and can be heard on Arizona Sports 620.