CALGARY – Ed Jovanovski says scoring the first goal of the season is always energizing, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been in the NHL.
Jovanovski’s power play goal at 11:52 of the second period broke a 2-2 tie as the Phoenix Coyotes came away with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night over the Calgary Flames.
For Jovanovski, not only was it his first goal in 10 games, it was his first point.
“Any time you go through a stretch like that where you can’t get anything, it weighs on you and it’s frustrating,” Jovanovski said. “It’s nice to get back on the board. I, personally, have always been a guy that likes to contribute offensively and hopefully this is the start of something good for me”.
At age 32, the defenceman is not old by NHL standards. But considering the youth on the Coyotes with five players aged 21 or younger, he certainly qualifies as a veteran and knows he’s a player the team counts on.
“Even after I scored that goal, I felt better as a player instantly,” Jovanovski said. “I felt confident, I felt my feet moving a lot better, I was in the play more, I was more physical”.
Jovanovski’s game-winner came on a low slapshot from the blue-line that trickled in off the glove of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. The goal came on Phoenix’s first power-play of the game, and against a red-hot Flames penalty killing unit that had killed off 31-of-33 penalties over the previous eight games.
The Coyotes gave themselves some wiggle room with two minutes left in the second period when Steve Reinprecht scored to make it 4-2, disappointing a sell-out crowd of 19,289.
Rookie centre Kevin Porter slid the puck into the high slot for the trailing Reinprecht, and the former Flame moved in and neatly tucked a backhand past the sprawling Kiprusoff for his first goal of the season.
Shane Doan and Derek Morris, with his first goal of the season, also scored for Phoenix (5-5-0), which ended a three-game road losing skid.
Doan also added an assist giving him eight points (three goals, five assists) in the last four games.
Daymond Langkow and Dustin Boyd scored in the first period for Calgary (7-5-1), which has dropped two games in row since its six-game winning streak was stopped Sunday night.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, when we’re playing at home like this, we like to think we have an advantage, but we didn’t play well for the first 40 minutes and when you get in a hole like that, it’s hard to get out of it,” said Flames right-winger David Moss, who had two assists.
Although not overly busy, Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves for Phoenix to improve to 4-4-0, delivering some timely saves, most notably in the third period.
Kiprusoff had 18 saves.
Calgary struck first on Langkow’s goal at 3:20 but Phoenix tied it at 10:23 when Morris put a 40-foot slapshot inside the goal post while the Coyotes were short-handed.
“Our power play was a little careless and that definitely contributed to their momentum,” said Flames coach Mike Keenan. “We had the lead and then gave it up with a short-handed goal. We really didn’t recover from that.”
Doan put the Coyotes up 2-1 at 18:24, but that lead was short-lived as Boyd scored on a deflection with 16 seconds left in the period.
“We felt good getting that late goal in the first, it’s usually a good momentum builder, but I don’t know if we got frustrated with no opportunities on the power-play or not getting that many shots and chances but when you give them a few breaks,” Moss said. “They have enough skill to put it in the back of the net and that’s what they did.”
Also in the first period was a bizarre sequence surrounding a spirited fight between Phoenix’s Garth Murray and Calgary’s Eric Nystrom. Immediately after a face off, four sets of gloves came off with Phoenix’s Daniel Carcillo and Calgary’s Brandon Prust – the wingers on the opposing side of Murray and Nystrom – also preparing to trade punches.
However, before either fight began, both sets of players looked over at the other and there was a long pause of indecision over which pair should start fighting.
Notes: Calgary D Robyn Regehr returned to the line-up after missing the previous game with an undisclosed injury.. Rookie Phoenix C Kyle Turris was a healthy scratch. His spot was taken by Murray, who was recalled Monday from San Antonio (AHL). Murray’s first game with the Coyotes was his 107th career NHL game. Murray, 26, has also seen time with the New York Rangers, Montreal and Florida.. Reinprecht’s goal was his 300th NHL point.. Calgary RW Todd Bertuzzi was a minus-3 to drop to a team-worst minus-10 for the season. D Marc Giordano leads the Flames at plus-4.