The Phoenix Coyotes finally put a stop to their losing ways Tuesday when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 1-0.
The Coyotes opened the scoring at 17:04 of the first period, when a slapshot from Shane Doan trickled through Vancouver goaltender Eddie Lack. It fell right on the goal-line and, after a brief scuffle, was put in by Antoine Vermette.
Head coach Dave Tippett described the game as “sloppy” and he couldn’t have been more right. The puck was bouncing everywhere and players looked unsettled. I guess a crazy day of trades will do that.
Here’s a closer look at the Coyotes’ win by the numbers.
There was only one goal in the game, but it proved to be enough. Vermette buried it in the first period and the Coyotes, who have struggled to close out so many games all season long, were able to maintain the lead to the end.
Phoenix was without two of their top players for most of the game. Center Martin Hanzal did not dress and is considered day-to-day after sustaining a lower-body injury in Sunday’s matchup with St. Louis.
Defenseman Derek Morris only skated four shifts before taking a high-stick to the face. Tippett said he sustained a small scratch to the eye (ouch) and it was treated with some solution. He was feeling better after the game.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith posted his third shutout of the season to help the Coyotes win. He described the game as “boring,” and I can’t blame him. He made 23 saves but few were actual scoring chances. Vancouver’s big push came in the second period, when Smith was able to slide across the net and tap a puck away at the last second.
Hockey is all about sacrifice and few Coyotes (heck, few NHL players) take that to heart like defenseman Zbynek Michalek. He blocked six shots against Vancouver, while the remainder of the Coyotes combined to block 15 more.
Tuesday’s win put the Coyotes firmly back in the playoff race. After starting the game in 11th place in the Western Conference, Phoenix finished the evening in ninth, thanks to beating the Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets losing.
Coyotes center Antoine Vermette tallied his 22nd goal of the season in the first period. After a shot from Shane Doan, the puck fell on the goal line and it was an easy tap-in for the 31-year-old, who leads the team in goals.
It was a big night for No. 38 Brandon McMillan. He tallied his first assist as a Coyote since being called up from the AHL. He was also named the second star of the game and tallied five hits on the night.