Mueller scores shootout winner as Coyotes beat Lightning 4-3

LOVELAND, Colo. – Peter Mueller skated up close to beat goalie Antero Nittymaki with the decisive shootout goal, lifting the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-3 exhibition victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

The teams forged their second tie within a 34-second span in the opening minutes of the third period. Steve Downie’s cross-ice pass set up Vincent Lecavalier’s wrist shot that got past Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera.

But Tampa Bay didn’t wait long to even it up again, coming right back when Scottie Upshall scored his second goal off an assist from Paul Szczechura to force the extra period.

Trailing 1-0, the Coyotes struck for two power-play goals 43 seconds apart in the second period to go in front. Radim Vrbata was at the front end of the successive scores when he put a rebound into the net after Nittymaki failed to control it at 4:10 of the second. Upshall was positioned in the crease moments later when he drove the puck past Nittymaki for his first goal.

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Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, pulled Tampa Bay into a 2-2 tie at 10:17 of the second, converting on a power-play opportunity created by a hooking penalty on the Coyotes’ Adrian Aucoin.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring 4:16 into the game when winger Ryan Malone beat LaBarbera from up close.

The game was played at the Budweiser Events Center, home of the Colorado Eagles, members of the Central Hockey League and an affiliate of the Lightning.