PHX – 5 SJ – 3 F
After a disappointing start to the second half of the season, the Coyotes continued their homestand Saturday night against the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes have been struggling in many phases of the game recently and they were in need of someone to step up and make a big game-changing play. Lauri Korpikoski answered that call. Twice.
The Coyotes, in a lackluster performance Thursday night, gave up 3 goals over an 8-shot span in the 2nd period. However, they pulled a complete 180 and netted 3 of their own goals on 6 shots in the middle frame Saturday.
Right from the game’s opening faceoff, the Coyotes played like a different team than the one who had only 1 win in their previous five games. Despite being outshot in the 1st period, the Coyotes dominated play and had 4 quality scoring chances to the Sharks’ zero, including 2 shots going off the goalpost.
Phoenix continued to control the tempo of the game in the 2nd period. Again they were outshot in the period, but they were flying all over the ice continuously outhitting and outhustling the Sharks. Even with the Sharks scoring first, the Coyotes were never deterred and Raffi Torres promptly responded 32 seconds later tying the game at 1. They Coyotes never trailed again. Korpikoski’s great effort following the play gave Phoenix their first lead of the game midway through the period. With the game tied at 2, the hustle that the Coyotes demonstrated all game paid off again in the final minute when Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzel created a 2 on 1 that took a fortunate bounce off Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns’ stick. While it was a fortunate bounce, it was an example of how you create your own luck through hard work and perseverance.
The Coyotes continued to wear the Sharks out in the third period with physical play, and finished the game with 38 hits compared to only 19 for San Jose. Korpikoski essentially put this game away midway through the period when he gave the Coyotes a 2-goal lead. Mike Smith, who got the start coming off his worst game of the year Thursday night, was magnificent stopping 32 of 35 shots and quelled any chance of Sharks comeback late in the game.
Phoenix felt that it really had something to prove this game and it showed. Everything that they had struggled with lately was corrected tonight. Passes were crisp and connecting, the defense was strong and punished the Sharks every chance they got, Smith was back in typical form, and the Coyotes finally put three strong periods together. The message was clear. The Coyotes can play with the top teams of the Western Conference. If they can continue to play like this, they are well on their way to becoming one of those teams
Ray Whitney added 2 assists and leads the Coyotes with 43 points
About the Author
Written by Doug Podkowsky
I have a lifelong passion for hockey. My earliest memories include watching the great Islanders teams of the early 80s win the Stanley Cup. I learned how to skate when I learned how to walk. While I am no longer in my prime, physically and on the ice, I am still a student of the game and I love to offer my expertise to fans, players, kids, and anyone else who has a passion for this great game