PHILADELPHIA – Shane Doan tied the Phoenix Coyotes’ franchise record for games played, then won a game in overtime to keep his team on a roll.
The Phoenix captain scored an overtime power-play goal to lift the Coyotes to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, their eighth straight victory.
Doan fired a shot through traffic and past Sergei Bobrovsky at 2:41 of overtime after Claude Giroux forced the extra session with 1:13 left in regulation. The win kept the Pacific Division-leading Coyotes one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks, who beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3.
Phoenix remains third overall in the Western Conference.
“We obviously took advantage of a couple of bounces,” Doan said. “It was a big two points for us.
“Anytime we come to this building, you know it going to be a tough game and we found a way.”
Doan played in his 1,098th game with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, tying him with Teppo Numminen for first on the all-time list. Barring injury, he’ll break the mark Wednesday in Tampa Bay.
Taylor Pyatt put Phoenix up 2-1 with 9:30 left in the third with a shot that somehow eluded Bobrovsky. He took the puck down the left side and fired from just in front of the blue-line. Bobrovsky appeared to have the puck lined up, but it took a bad hop off his skate and flipped over his leg.
The Flyers lost for just the third time in nine games and fell to 16-6 since New Year’s Day. They still lead Tampa Bay by eight points in the race for the East’s No. 1 seed.
At 2:44 of the third, Eric Belanger beat Bobrovsky in front of the net, taking a pass from Mikkel Boedker, who had put a move on Kimmo Timonen down the right side. Belanger scored his second goal in three games to tie it 1-1.
Ville Leino opened the scoring in the first for the Flyers, who lost for only the second time when leading after two periods. He skated across the centre of the ice as Matt Carle fired from the top of the left faceoff circle. Reaching across his body with his stick, he deflected the puck off Sami Lepisto’s skate and by Ilya Bryzgalov.
Giroux went top shelf late in the third to force the overtime, converting his own rebound in front of Bryzgalov as he fell forward.
“I didn’t have time to regroup myself right away for the second shot,” Bryzgalov said. “He shot it right away off the rebound.”
Bryzgalov stopped 37 shots in his matchup against fellow Russian Bobrovsky, who made 26 saves. Bryzgalov has started 19 consecutive games and has stopped 227 of 240 shots during the eight-game winning streak, for a .945 save percentage. Six of the wins have been by one goal, and four were by the score of 3-2.
The home game was Kris Versteeg’s first since being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Valentine’s Day. Flyers fans, of course, remember the right-winger celebrating on the Wells Fargo Center ice after his Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last June.
The Blackhawks dealt him to Toronto over the summer, and the Leafs sent him to Philadelphia last week for first- and third-round draft picks.
Playing on a line with Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk, as he adjusts to coach Peter Laviolette’s system, the 24-year-old has one goal—coming into an empty net against the New York Rangers—and one assist in five games with the Flyers.
Philadelphia played without defenceman Sean O’Donnell, who could miss up two weeks with a left knee injury suffered Sunday against the Rangers, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. They may have also lost defenceman Oskars Bartulis, who left the game with a shoulder injury after a hit by Scottie Upshall, a former Flyer. The hit resulted in a boarding penalty.
Bartulis will have an MRI on Wednesday.
“Oskars was standing there minding his own business,” Holmgren said. “It was a late hit.
“I have a little bit of a problem with it, yeah. It’s not really like Scotty to do that.”
Upshall defended himself.
“I was just going hard to the net,” he said. “I didn’t intentionally go to hit him, let alone hit him into the boards.
“You know what? I’ve been off balance before where you can’t find your footing and you try to plant. It was a play that is usually a routine shoulder-to-shoulder kind of play going hard to the net. I hope he’s all right. Those plays happen a lot when it’s just guys standing up to each other.”
Phoenix came back to erase a second-intermission deficit for the sixth time this season, tying Dallas for the second-most third-period comebacks in the league.
“It’s fun,” Doan said. “We challenge ourselves so much. (Bryzgalov) was phenomenal again.
“When you have someone like him playing in net, you always feel like you have a chance, no matter how you’re playing. (That said), we’ve got a lot of room to improve. We’re not happy with the way that one finished, with them getting the extra point. But (we won).”
The Coyotes will take their two points, to be sure. And now, they streak down to Florida, where they’ll meet another Eastern Conference elite team, the Lightning.
“We want to make sure we continue to get better every game,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “When you have good wins like this, you take the positives out of it, but there’s still a lot of things we have to get better with.
“Our group’s a pretty good group. They’re working pretty hard, and we’re finding ways to win.”