GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes may be down these days, but they’re not out.
Radim Vrbata’s shootout goal completed Phoenix’s late comeback and gave the Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
The win snapped a five-game winless streak and gives the Coyotes 78 points in the Pacific Division. The comeback was fuelled by three unanswered goals in the final period, and lifted the Coyotes to their first victory since they won in Philadelphia on Feb. 22.
“In the third period, we started to feed off one another, and the win was huge,” said Kyle Turris, who scored the Coyotes’ first goal late in the opening period. “The win was good for our confidence, and a huge two points in the tight race.”
Down 4-1 in the final period, the Coyotes got goals from Mikkel Boedker and Ray Whitney to get within one by the middle of the frame. Martin Hanzal tied it with 1:57 left in regulation.
“We were never out of it,” said defenceman Keith Yandle. “Between the second and third periods, the coaches came into the room and told us to stay calm, and stay in it. Then, we started to feed off one another, and were able to get back in it.”
After Turris was stopped by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the shootout, Vrbata put a backhander in behind him to win it.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped Pavel Datsyuk in the tiebreaker, and attempts by Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi to extend the shootout hit the post.
Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak and stretched Detroit’s skid to three games (0-1-2). The Red Wings went 2-1-2 on a five-game road trip.
“We tried to make plays that weren’t there,” said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “No, we didn’t give up, but they came on strong. (Howard) saved us many times, but we made things hard on ourselves.”
The Coyotes got off to a rough start.
Just 2:04 in, Detroit forward Drew Miller flipped the puck on net from deep in the left circle and got it between Bryzgalov’s pads. It was the Red Wings’ first shot of the game.
Phoenix had two power plays in the first period, but failed to tie the game. The Coyotes had the 21st ranked power-play unit coming into the night, and had worked to improve it earlier Saturday.
Johan Franzen scored his 27th goal, and team-leading 10th on the power play, with 3:03 left in the first to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.
The Coyotes cut the deficit in half with 1:19 remaining when Turris flipped in a wrist shot for his 11th goal.
The power-play drought for Phoenix continued in the second period when the Coyotes failed on three chances. They had other opportunities at even strength, but Ray Whitney was stopped on a breakaway, Martin Hanzel was denied by Howard five minutes in, and Eric Belanger’s backhander in front was gloved by Howard halfway through the frame.
Detroit’s special teams, however, continued to click. Darren Helm scored a short-handed goal with 13 seconds left in the second period to make it 4-1.
The Wings could not hold that advantage.
“We didn’t keep it simple, and you need to do that when you’re up,” said Wings centre Mike Modano. “Hockey is basically a territorial game, and when you get a lead, you need to keep your play pretty basic.”
Detroit scored its four goals on its first 14 shots of the game.
Notes: The game was the third home sellout for Phoenix. … The Coyotes recalled RW Brett MacLean, who was the leading scorer at San Antonio of the AHL. … Lidstrom had two assists, giving him 1,100 points in the NHL. … With a goal and assist, Turris recorded his third multipoint game of the season.