GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day where starting goaltender Mike Smith was named to Team Canada’s roster for the 2014 Sochi Games, it was his backup, Thomas Greiss, who put together an Olympic-esque performance between the pipes against the Calgary Flames.
Although not tested an awful lot by a rather hapless Calgary squad — 2-9-0 in last 11 games — Greiss was more than up for the task on the shots that did find their way to his crease, as the Phoenix Coyotes recorded their first regulation win since Dec. 12 with a 6-0 pasting of the Flames Tuesday night.
For Greiss, the 27-save shutout, a first by any Phoenix netminder this season, served as a bit of a confidence booster after what transpired for the 27-year-old during the teams’ last meeting at the Scotiabank Saddledome back on Dec. 4. On that night, the Coyotes’ backup goalie allowed four goals on only 18 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Flames.
However, there would no repeat performance at Jobing.com Arena.
The first-year Coyote swallowed up a majority of the point-blank pucks that flew in his direction, and his defensemen played collectively their most complete game of the season in front of the net, as the Flames’ offensive chances were few and far between.
“If you see him, he’s just solid,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said of Greiss. “He just goes in there and doesn’t do anything flashy. He gets in front of the puck, and I guess that’s what he’s supposed to do.
“A key I always say is when a goaltender makes things look fairly easy and there are difficult shots that look like routine saves, he’s playing well. That’s what you saw tonight.”
In just his second game back on the ice after sitting out a month with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Coyotes captain Shane Doan found his way back on the score sheet. After an uneventful opening period, Doan managed to get the scoring started for Phoenix — albeit in a fluky manner. A little more than two minutes into the second period, Mikkel Boedker picked up a loose rebound from behind the Flames’ goal and managed to fling the puck somewhere in the vicinity of the crease, where it hit off of Doan’s left shoulder and into the back of the net.
“I might have been a little fortunate on that one,” Doan said. “I don’t if that’s exactly how they drew it up, but I’ll take it. Hopefully it gets me rolling. It hit me high somewhere in the shoulder, but that’s what you do to find a way to get the game-winning goal.”
Boedker’s night, however, was just getting started.
With a 2-0 lead and under eight minutes to play in the second period, Mike Ribeiro chased down a puck along the boards behind the Flames’ goal and found Boedker in the left circle on a nifty back-handed pass. Boedker promptly ripped a wrist shot past Reto Berra for his career-high 29th point of the 2013-14 season.
Since Nov. 2, Boedker has 10 goals and nine assists in 29 games.
“We obviously have talked about winning games at home,” Boedker said. “We dropped our last two games here and wanted to come out [tonight] and give a real good effort. In the first, it was so-so. In the second, I thought we were real good and real sharp. We got our feet moving a lot. Yeah, we got two lucky bounces to start, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. We needed those.”
While neither power play materialized into a goal for Calgary, defenseman David Schlemko was whistled for Phoenix’s only two penalties of the night. Schlemko came into the night with a grand total of eight penalty minutes.
The Coyotes began the third period like a team with a three-goal goal lead, and it wasn’t all that pretty to watch.
Calgary dominated time of possession and was consistently in the offensive zone during the first half of the frame. And while the Flames eventually wore down and illustrated precisely why they have a league-worst minus-16 third period goal differential — surrendering three goals to Lauri Korpikoski, Michael Stone and Rob Klinkhammer in the final 11 minutes of the contest — against better teams that noticeable level of malaise will not cut it — as was the case in the third period of Phoenix’s 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday.
He Said It:
“He’s unbelievable. We’re so fortunate to have two great goalies. Greiser, he stands in there and takes one-timers from the hash marks and shootouts after shootouts after shootouts in practice. Obviously, we’re excited for him that he came in and had a big night for us.”
– Captain Shane Doan on Thomas Greiss’ second-career shutout
– Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was named to Sweden’s Olympic roster earlier in the day, missed his second consecutive contest, as he continues to recover from a hit delivered by Columbus Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie in Thursday night’s 2-0 loss.
– With the win, Phoenix improved to 5-0-0 this season at Jobing.com Arena against Western Canadian opponents.
– The Coyotes had seven players – Boedker, Doan, Hanzal, Korpikoski, Ribeiro, Stone and Vrbata – record multi-point performances.
– Rob Klinkhammer’s rebound goal on the power play in the waning moments of Tuesday’s game snapped the Coyotes’ 0-of-15 skid with the man advantage.
– With their second-period goals, Boedker and Doan find themselves tied for the team lead with 13 apiece.
– Phoenix has made itself quite at home this season on Tuesday nights. The Coyotes’ 6-0 rout of the Flames pushes their record to 8-2-1 in Tuesday games.
The Coyotes continue their home stand Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Wild (22-17-5) at Jobing.com Arena. The two teams have already played once in 2013-14 with Phoenix taking a 3-1 contest in St. Paul back on Nov. 27 behind two goals by Radim Vrbata.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MST and can be heard on KMVP 860 AM.