GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jason LaBarbera was excited to play against his former team. He was even more thrilled to help the Phoenix Coyotes set a franchise record in the process.
LaBarbera made 28 saves and was perfect in the shootout as the Coyotes set a team record by winning their 10th straight home game, 3-2 over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
“It’s always weird when you play your ex-teammates especially when it’s so close,” said LaBarbera, who was the backup to Roberto Luongo last year. “I ended the year with them and we had a lot of good memories in the playoffs and I just wanted to come with a good effort tonight.”
Ed Jovanovski and Petr Prucha scored in regulation and Lauri Korpikoski had the lone goal of the shootout for the Coyotes, who surpassed the nine-game streak set by the Winnipeg Jets from Dec. 27, 1992 through Jan. 23, 1993.
Phoenix has won four of its last five overall, only losing Monday night in a shootout at San Jose.
“I’m just proud of how hard the guys competed,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. “I mean you’ve got Vancouver on a winning streak, sitting here last night watching our game on TV. We played a hard, hard game in San Jose and we come back here and the guys muster up that kind of effort, it makes our whole coaching staff very proud.”
Mikael Samuelsson and Kyle Wellwood scored for the Canucks, who became the last team in the league to record an overtime loss. Wellwood tied the game with 6:12 left in regulation.
“I’ve seen Wellwood enough times last year in practice and I knew he was going to slow down,” LaBarbera said. “He holds the puck out in front of him so it’s a little bit easier for me to get to it.”
Jovanovski gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead midway through the second period on a wild sequence in which Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall was knocked to the ice and Vancouver goalie Robert Luongo was stripped of his stick.
Shane Doan took the puck from Upshall while he was flat on the ice, skated right and then reversed the puck to Jovanovski at the left circle. Jovanovski shot just to the left of the prone Upshall and beat the nearly defenceless Luongo to his blocker side at 10:00 of the first.
Samuelsson tied the game just 49 seconds later when he took advantage of a partial screen and rifled a sharp wrist shot from the top of the right circle past LaBarbera.
“If you think you’re coming to Phoenix now for an easy two points that’s not the case now,” Samuelsson said.
Phoenix regained the lead at 17:02 of the second when Prucha chipped a shot off Luongo and into the net for his second goal in two nights.
Luongo stopped 23 shots for the Canucks.
“We got one of those loser points so everybody can get off our case because we didn’t have one,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “But I would rather have won and still have people on our case for not having one of those loser points.”
NOTES: Wellwood’s goal was his second in as many games. He scored the game-winner at Calgary on Sunday. LaBarbera was making his first start since December 17 and his second in Phoenix’s last 21 games. The Canucks have played only three overtime games this season and all three have gone to the shootout. The Coyotes have points in their last eight games (6-1-2).