GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes lost veteran defenceman Ed Jovanovski on a hit to the head—and found a spark, too.
Shane Doan scored the first of four third-period goals in the Coyotes’ 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, their fifth win in six games.
“We were not playing with a lot of emotion,” Doan said. “Obviously, when you see it on the video (screen) it looks pretty bad. The refs said they didn’t see it, but it gave us some emotion for sure.”
Phoenix ended Toronto’s win streak at four games.
“Obviously if you’re not scoring a goal you’re going to be behind in the game,” said Toronto coach Ron Wilson, whose squad has been held scoreless in the first two period the past two games. “We tried to be too perfect with our plays.”
Although the two teams were facing each other for the first time since Dec. 16, 2009, the game got chippy in the closing minutes of the second.
With just under two minutes remaining, Jovanovski was levelled by a shoulder to the head from Mike Brown. No penalty was called on the play or the ensuing scuffle after Jovanovski got back to his feet and skated from the Phoenix goal-line to the benches to get to Brown.
“It’s the game of hockey and I play that style of game,” Brown said. “I’d never try to hurt anyone.
“If he hadn’t reached for the puck his head wouldn’t have gone down. The refs made a good call. Obviously, they didn’t call it for a reason. It wasn’t a bad hit.”
Jovanovski didn’t return for the third because of a lower-body injury sustained on the same play, Coyotes officials said.
“The league will look at that one I’m sure,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “I feel bad for Jovo because it was a hard hit on him but I think it woke the rest of the team up.
“We made some good plays but it took us a while to get our heads in the game.”
Brown’s hit and a pair of subsequent scrums led to the Phoenix power play on which Doan scored, followed by goals from Taylor Pyatt, Lauri Korpikoski and Keith Yandle.
“When we saw the replay obviously it brought a pretty good rise out of the group,” Doan said.
The final dustup with seven seconds left in the second resulted in four minor penalties, three against Toronto, and the Coyotes took advantage early in the third.
After the teams skated 4-on-4 the first 1:35 of the period, Doan made it 2-0 four seconds into Phoenix’s power play. He blasted a pass from Yandle past James Reimer from the top of the right faceoff circle.
Yandle earned his second assist of the game when he found Pyatt at 4:52 of the third to give the Coyotes a 3-0 lead.
Korpikoski made it 4-0 with 8:43 to go, shooting over Reimer’s right shoulder from the low slot. Yandle added an empty-net goal with 41 seconds left.
Radim Vrbata also scored while Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves, allowing only Colby Armstrong’s goal with 3:52 left.
“These are very, very important games for us,” Tippett said. “We have to play better than we did tonight.
“I’ll take the two points but we need to play better.”
Vrbata got the Coyotes off to a fast start, scoring 2:05 into the game and 12 seconds into a power play following a hooking penalty on Dion Phaneuf. Ray Whitney passed the puck from the top of the left circle to Vrbata at the bottom of the right circle and he beat Reimer with a shot over the goalie’s left shoulder.
“I didn’t quite have it today,” Reimer said. “I was three saves short.
“I’m disappointed because I could have made a couple of the saves. It weighs heavily on you.”
NOTES: The Coyotes have scored at least four goals in each of their past three games. … Bryzgalov is 4-0 in his career against the Leafs. … Vrbata has scored in consecutive games. … Toronto averaged 5.5 goals during its win streak.