The Phoenix Coyotes came back from two different two goal deficits to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in the shootout Saturday night for their eighth straight victory.
The win also put the Coyotes within one point, that’s right you heard correctly ONE POINT, of the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division and two points behind the conference leading Blackhawks, who did receive a point in this game.
The red hot Lee Stempniak got his second two goal game since his arrival to the desert, giving him nine goals in eight games since being dealt to the Coyotes at the deadline.
“I wanted to come here and have a fresh start. I’ve scored goals before and I know how to do it. To be part of a team that’s winning and to chip in is a lot of fun,” Stempniak said, “This was a big test for us. Coming back after a long road trip, it would have been easy to have a letdown game. But we found a way.”
Minus a fluke goal scored by Andrew Ladd, Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov continued his MVP-worthy play stopping 34 shots as well as all three shooters in the skills competition.
The Blackhawks started the game off with the first goal to give their home crowd something to get behind. What’s that? The game was in Phoenix? But there were so many Hawks fans at the game. And it was a sellout, are you sure it was at The Job (Jobing.com Arena)? Weird.
Regardless, Troy Brouwer opened up the scoring ten seconds after a Radim Vrbata penalty expired when he snapped home a centering pass from Patrick Kane.
Kane would then go on to score the first goal of the second period to give the Hawks their first two-goal lead.
New-comer Wojtek Wolski would cut the lead to one after banging in a rebound goal past Anti Niemi, who stopped 31 shots. Stempniak then tipped in an shot from the point to tie the game up at two just over a minute into the third period.
Captain Shane Doan notched an assist, which was his 400th assist, on Wolski’s goal and despite not putting anymore points on the board was probably The Coyotes best forward throughout the night.
Doan never gave up and was playing a very aggressive game which even included a hard check to John Madden, who’s face hit the cement-like glass and went down in pain, and created numerous chances by grinding his way through the injury-plagued Chicago defence.
Chicago battled back as it would score two goals, including the little ‘whoopsie’ by Bryzgalov, to give itself another two goal lead just over two minutes after the Coyotes tied the game.
But Phoenix, as they have done all season, failed to give up and outworked Chicago leading to “The Ninja”, Stempniak, scoring his second goal of the game to cut the lead back to one. Head coach Dave Tippett then looked over to the bullpen and called upon his closer to tie this game back up.
The closer, for those unaware, is none other then defenseman Adrian Aucoin who has, surprisingly, been known to score clutch goals for Phoenix this season, and he did just that as he fired home his usual top glove shot that tied the game up at four with five minutes to go in the game.
Again, the Coyotes had come from behind in the third period to force extra time.
During that extra time Phoenix was awarded a penalty shot for Matthew Lombardi, which he missed but appeared hurt after the initial play that gave him the shot, and saw a goal by Vernon Fiddler, who kicked it in thus did not have it count.
Vrbata would be the lone goal scorer in the shootout, his second game winning shootout goal in a row, to complete the unthinkable comeback for the Yotes.
Winning eight games in a row has many of the analysts and experts in the hockey world, the same people who predicted the team to finish no higher then 25th this season, getting incredibly drunk of the Coyote Kool-aid as the team is getting more and more press due to their surprising success this season.
More and more publicity is being given to this team, who couldn’t even pay to get a story on the front page of the Arizona Republic sport’s section earlier this season or seasons passed, but now the state of AZ is starting to take notice, just like they always tend to do when their hometown team is winning.
The Coyotes will attempt to overtake the Sharks for the Pacific division lead on Sunday as they take on the Dallas Stars in the Lone Star State and will try to win their ninth straight victory.
This game is the third time in just over a month the Coyotes have played the Stars on the second game of a back-to-back series. The Coyotes lost both of the previous contests.
Get behind this team Arizona, the white-out is one of the most amazing sites to witness first hand and it looks the best when it’s a sold out game.
Lookin’ Fine to Make it Nine!!! GO YOTES GO
*- For those confused about the headline, during the ownership debacle this summer Jim Ballsille created a site called makeitseven.ca in order to rally fans in his attempt to bring the Coyotes to Hamilton, which would be Canada’s seventh team.
About the Author
Written by Matt Shott
22 year old hockey fan born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Weird, huh? Entire family minus myself and my brother were born in Toronto, ON so thats how I became a fan of this great sport. I have worked at Ice rinks since I was 14 and spend all day reading hockey stories. I eat, sleep, coach, play, and basically LIVE hockey. I became a Red Wing fan thanks to EA Sports NHL '95 and haven't looked back since (Why would I?). Parents were Season Ticket holders for the Phoenix Coyotes since day 1 and when they moved to Portland 3 years ago, I picked up where they left off and have found a soft spot for them. I moved to Toronto in January '10 to attend Centennial College's Sports Journalism program, so I am becoming a Maple Leafs fan in the process. Its hard to do after 16 years of being a Red Wings fan. So to recap: Wings fan at heart, Leafs fan on the outside, and always carry a soft spot for the Coyotes.