GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) — Wayne Gretzky knows a little about
being a marked man in the NHL, so it was no surprise he made
sure Alex Ovechkin was accounted for.
Rookie Mikkel Boedker and Peter Mueller scored in a span of 4:03
in the third period, lifting Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes to a 2-1
victory over Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals on Thursday.
Mikael Tellqvist stopped 31 shots for Phoenix, which snapped a
two-game skid and has won its first two home games for the first
time since 2000-01.
Tellqvist and the Coyotes did so by containing the
ultra-talented Ovechkin. The superstar was held without a goal
for a fifth straight game.
“The Great One” was proud of his team’s defensive play against
Ovechkin, the reigning Hart Trophy winner who scored a
league-best 65 goals last season.
“Ovechkin is a great player, one of the top three in the
league,” Gretzky said. “He plays hard, is physical and is fun
to watch, but I thought our guys did a great job.
“We sort of played two lines against him. One was a checking
line, and the other was with Boedker trying to utilize his
speed. We used the two units against him because he is such a
great athlete and in such great shape.”
Gretzky also praised Tellqvist for staying ready despite the
fact Ilya Bryzgalov is firmly entrenched as the team’s starting
“He is a tremendous kid and he works hard, and it is not easy to
work hard every day knowing that the other guy is going to play
three or four games in a row,” Gretzky said. “When he does go
in, he is fired up, and I know the other players like him and
respect him and want him to do well.”
“They have one (big scorer) on every line, pretty much. You
have to be aware of them,” Tellqvist said. “They have plenty of
offense, and it is really hard to shut Alex down, but we were
able to shut him down.”
Tellqvist allowed Brooks Laich’s power-play goal at 8:18 of the
second, but the Coyotes barged ahead in the third, scoring twice
on eight shots against Jose Theodore, who made 32 saves overall.
“Jose was great in the first two (periods), and we talk about
not playing prevent defense, and that is what we did,” Capitals
coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We had two really bad plays that
led to the two goals, then we have the sense of urgency in the
last six minutes of the game and we can’t score.”
Phoenix tied the game just 2:59 into the period, when Washington
defenseman Tyler Sloan failed to clear the puck from his own
zone. Olli Jokinen gathered it near the left wing boards and
fired a pass to Boedker, who beat Theodore with a wrist shot
from the slot.
Mueller put the Coyotes ahead with a one-timer off a cross-ice
feed from Martin Hanzal that found the right side of the net at
“It was a great win for the boys tonight and definitely lifted
their spirits,” Mueller said. “Going into the third period down
by one, we knew what we needed to do, and we came out strong and
got a couple of bounces.
“We knew how important this game was, and our third period has
been our best period. What it shows is one good period can win
you the hockey game, and that is what we did tonight.”
Laich put Washington up, 1-0, when he took a pass from Alexander
Semin and beat Tellqvist with a wrist shot from the slot.
The Capitals, who went 1-for-4 with the man advantage, are just
2-for-22 on the power play over their last four games.
“We have only ourselves to blame,” Washington’s Matt Bradley
said. “It’s not what the other team is doing, it’s what we are
not doing. We were pretty good the first two periods, but for
some reason, we came out flat in the third. There is no excuse