NHL: Coyotes Push For The Playoffs With Win Over Habs
The Phoenix Coyotes are in the thick of the race for that last wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Tonight’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens was a great way to end the home stand before heading out on an East Coast road trip.
Coyotes came out strong in the opening period and grabbed the lead after 2:08 after a goal by Radim Vrbata. Canadiens tied it up at 1-1 when Andrei Markov beat Smith with a slapshot at the 7:13 mark. But the momentum was with the desert dogs and Lauri Korpikoski scored on the power play after 15:04 to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. Oliver Ekman-Larsson added to the Yotes lead with 8.5secs remaining of the period with a real laser to beat Peter Budaj in the Habs net. Ekman-Larsson’s goal was his 100th NHL-point.
“I didn’t know I was close to it [100 points],” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s always fun to score goals, hopefully I have a couple of more in me.”
In the second period it was all about the Canadiens. The Yotes took 4 minor penalties in the period, giving the Habs an opportunity to get back into the game. With Halpern and Ekman-Larsson in the box, Alex Galchenyuk scored his 12th goal of the season, getting Habs back within one. Montreal out-shot Phoenix 11-1 in the second period. Mike Smith was solid in net and ended the game with 24 saves.
When asked about what he told the players during the second intermission, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said that he couldn’t repeat it to the media.
Whatever he said, it did have an effect on the team. Coyotes took back command of the game in the third period. Vrbata scored his second of the night after 11:43 after a nice setup by Kyle Chipchura. Captain Shane Doan then got his 18th goal of the season at 13:28 on the power play with a deflection of a Keith Yandle shot. Ekman-Larsson picked up the second assist. Ekman-Larsson had 30:48 in total ice time to go along with his goal and assist despite spending 4 minutes in the penalty box. Trading deadline addition Martin Erat played 16:30 and was a +2.
Coyotes are just one point behind the Dallas Stars who currently occupy the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
Phoenix now head to the East Coast for take on the Washington Capitals (Saturday), Tampa Bay Lightning (Monday), Florida Panthers (Tuesday) and Boston Bruins (Thursday).