GLENDALE, Ariz. – The shots seemed to come from everywhere: wristers from the circle, one-timers in the slot, deflections just outside the crease.
Scott Clemmensen turned them all away in Florida’s shaky first period, giving the Panthers a chance to get a much-needed win.
Clemmensen stopped 40 shots, and Michael Frolik scored in regulation and in the fifth round of a shootout to lift the Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
Making his fifth start of the season in place of Tomas Vokoun, Clemmensen was stellar in the first period and made some big saves down the stretch, including a 2-on-1 rush during a short-handed chance in overtime.
Clemmensen added three more stops in the shootout, setting up Frolik’s goal that went between Ilya Bryzgalov’s pads and helped Florida pull out a tough win after the Panthers lost five of six.
“He was great,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s exactly what we need him to do, come in and pitch games like that in order for us to turn things around.”
The Coyotes couldn’t score despite bombarding Clemmensen in the first period and again after picking up the pressure in the third. Their only goal was scored off a deflection in the second period. Phoenix escaped a two-man advantage in overtime, but failed on three of five attempts in the shootout.
Martin Hanzal scored his seventh goal of the season in the second period, and Bryzgalov made 36 saves in Phoenix’s third loss in four games.
“Obviously, we would like to get that extra point,” Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski said. “We had our opportunities, so did they, and their goaltender played great—so did ours.”
Clemmensen was just a little better, especially early.
He did his best to keep this one close against Phoenix’s early flurry, stuffing Taylor Pyatt’s one-timer from just outside the crease and making several other close-range saves in the first period.
Clemmensen gave up a deflection goal in the second period, but was solid otherwise and had a superb third period, turning away tough deflections and shots through traffic on seemingly every trip as Phoenix outshot the Panthers 13-7. He had saves on Lee Stempniak and Ray Whitney in the shootout, then gave Frolik the chance for the winner by stuffing Lauri Korpikoski.
“We knew they were going to come out hard. It’s their building, they’re a very good team, they’re very fast,” Clemmensen said. “It was a matter of kind of weathering the storm in the first. I thought once we got going there, from the beginning of the second on in, we were very good.”
Bryzgalov was good early in the season when the Coyotes were struggling and superb during a seven-game winning streak, but allowed eight goals his past two starts. After getting Wednesday’s game against Minnesota off, he was good early, but had some shaky moments early in the second period when Florida turned up the pressure.
The Panthers had 10 shots in the first 10 minutes of the period, and Bryzgalov gave up several long rebounds, along with a shot that popped over his shoulder and landed on the side of the net.
The Coyotes didn’t help him with several weak clearing passes, allowing the Panthers to spend much of the period in Phoenix’s end, and gave up the first goal on an ugly gaffe.
Nolan Yonkman coughed up the puck without much pressure, and David Booth took advantage, slipping the puck to Frolik, who one-timed a shot in from between the circles.
Phoenix regrouped late in the period and picked up the pressure, tying it with a power-play goal from Hanzal. The puck bounced off his leg and between Clemmensen’s pads on a shot from the left circle by Whitney.
The Coyotes couldn’t get another puck past Florida’s backup goalie in regulation and barely killed off two overtime penalties to get to the shootout.
“There were some good things, but at the end of the day we needed those points and let one get away,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
Notes: Florida LW Cory Stillman missed his third straight game because of a sore back. … Phoenix has allowed 13 goals in the first period, tied for fewest in the NHL. … Florida failed on four power-play chances and is an NHL-worst 7 of 89 this season.