GLENDALE, Ariz. – Adrian Aucoin is fitting in quite nicely in his first season with the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes.
Aucoin scored at 1:57 of overtime to give the Coyotes a 3-2 comeback victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night for their best start in eight years.
“Up a goal, down a goal, it doesn’t matter,” said Aucoin, who signed as a free agent after two seasons in Calgary. “We come out and play the same way.”
Aucoin took an outlet pass from Jim Vandermeer and fired a sharp wrist shot from the outer edge of the right faceoff circle that got past Chris Osgood’s right skate.
“They said if you shoot the puck on the net good things happen,” Aucoin said. “It was a lucky one.”
Phoenix’s Petr Prucha forced the overtime, scoring on a wild play in front of the crease with 2:40 left in regulation.
“They were playing pretty well and we weren’t getting much but we hung around,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “I love the way that we just decided we were throwing pucks at the crease and let’s see what happens.”
The Coyotes have won six of their first eight games (6-2-0) for just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2000-01.
“It’s feels a lot better than if we were 2-6,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “We realize it’s only eight games into the year. Come talk to us in April and that’s when we’ll be excited.”
Aucoin’s goal spoiled the return of Pavel Datsyuk, who assisted on both Red Wings goals after missing two games because of an upper-body injury.
Matthew Lombardi opened the scoring on a power-play goal for the Coyotes, who beat Detroit for the second time in the last 13 meetings (2-9-2). Tomas Holmstrom and Brett Lebda scored for the Red Wings, who have lost two straight.
No fewer than three players were in the crease and Prucha himself was flat on his stomach when he scored the tying goal.
“It was two funky plays for their last two goals,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who assisted on both Detroit goals. “Hopefully we’ll get that back sometime soon. It’s tough to lose this way. I thought we played a good game.”
Osgood made the initial save and the puck remained near his left pad as Phoenix left-wing Radim Vrbata was nudged into the goalie by Datsyuk and Lebda.
Prucha, while laying on the ice, managed to slide his stick through the scrum and help push the puck in to the net. Video replay officials reviewed the play for several minutes before upholding the goal.
“I thought they were pushing the goalie into the net,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “To me I didn’t think that was allowed but it didn’t matter. We were set up to win the game and we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Lombardi gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 16:30 of the first, batting a loose puck into the net with a downward swipe after Osgood blocked Aucoin’s shot with his chest.
Holmstrom redirected Henrik Zetterberg’s blast from the top of the right circle past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for a power-play goal with 19.3 seconds left in the first period to make it 1-1. It was the first power-play goal allowed at home by the Coyotes this season in seven opportunities.
Lebda made it 2-1 at 7:45 of the second period when he took a pass from Datsyuk at the inside hashes of the left faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot into the open left side of the net.
Bryzgalov, who entered the game with a league-best 1.14 goals-against average, stopped 25 shots.
NOTES: The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 11,938, many wearing Red Wings colours. … Osgood was 5-0-0 with a 2.76 goals-against average against Phoenix in the previous two seasons.