GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Anaheim Ducks cleared the air and breathed a sigh of relief.
Corey Perry scored his team-leading 20th goal and Jonas Hiller made 31 saves to lead the Ducks past the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle and his coaching staff met individually with players before and after practice Monday, following the Ducks’ dismal 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
“We talked about some of the things we thought were grieving them and some of the things they thought were grieving us,” Carlyle said. “We felt better today. Obviously the coaching staff makes the final decisions, but it doesn’t hurt to get some feedback.”
Among the points made by the players, Carlyle said, was Anaheim had lost its identity as a hard forechecking team. After a slow start, the Ducks regained that focus at the expense of Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov, playing for the first time after missing five games with an undisclosed upper body injury, was shaky early. He allowed three goals on the first nine shots he faced.
Luca Sbisa and Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Ducks, who won for the second time in six games.
“We have to show that when we play well we can play with any team in the league,” Hiller said. “Our problem is we haven’t shown that every night.”
Shane Doan scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, who have lost three of four and scored one goal in each of the four games.
“Let’s face it, our last few games we haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “To go down three early, that’s a big climb back for us.”
The Coyotes played their first home game since the Glendale City Council approved a new arena lease. That cleared the way for the team to be purchased from the NHL. The game drew a crowd of 14,032, the largest this season for a weeknight home contest.
Sbisa gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead on the Ducks’ second shot, a one-timer from the top of the left circle that slipped between Bryzgalov’s left skate and the right post.
Lupul made it 2-0 at 8:16 of the period when his shot from the bottom of the right circle deflected off the right post and tucked just under the crossbar on the far left side of the net. No goal was signalled immediately, but play was stopped seconds later. The goal was awarded following a video review.
Bryzgalov’s defence left him hanging on Anaheim’s third goal. Sami Lepisto attempted a clearing pass off the Coyotes’ goal line, but Perry intercepted the puck at the centre of the left circle, took one stride and fired in a shot at 15:20 of the first period.
“We did the same thing with (Evgeni) Malkin and (Sidney) Crosby,” Tippett said, recalling the Coyotes’ 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 20. “It’s what’s been happening for us right now.”
Doan pulled Phoenix within 3-1 in the closing seconds of a two-man power-play—the Coyotes’ first of two 5-on-3 advantages. He corralled a long rebound at the left of the net and bounced a shot off Hiller’s left pad.
“We can’t do that,” Carlyle said of the two-man advantages. “Those are things where we’re very fortunate to get out of here with two points.”
NOTES: Phoenix had one shot on their second, 37-second two-man advantage. The crowd also might have been boosted by a US$1 beer promotion. Ryan Getzlaf took a puck to the face 4:31 into the second period and bled profusely before he was helped to the dressing room. Ducks personnel said Getzlaf had a laceration above the eye and was feeling better by the third period, but he didn’t return. He will be evaluated Wednesday morning.