COLUMBUS, Ohio – Shane Doan didn’t want to talk so much about what his 1,000th career game meant to him. Besides, winning meant more to his team.
Robert Lang stayed perfect in shootouts this season, scoring the winner to give the Phoenix Coyotes a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
“It’s a huge blessing,” Doan said of his milestone game. “It’s hard to say what it really means. It will probably mean a lot more later on. Right now, that was a big win for us and we needed it.”
Shooting third after each team scored a shootout goal, Lang improved to 2 for 2 in tiebreakers this season when his wrister beat Mathieu Garon.
Rick Nash, who scored for Columbus in regulation, had the Blue Jackets’ goal in the tiebreaker before Doan had tied it to set the stage for Lang’s winner.
Jason LaBarbera made 38 saves for the Coyotes, with Keith Yandle scoring Phoenix’s goal in regulation.
“I don’t think it was our best effort, but we did enough to get the points,” LaBarbera said. “To be able to get two points out of a game like that for Shane Doan is pretty special.”
Lang has long been a nemesis of the Blue Jackets, who have won just two of their last 15 games. He came in with 12 goals, 21 assists and a plus-11 rating in 35 career games against Columbus.
“Anytime you can score a game-winning goal, it’s great,” Lang said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. Two points, especially on back-to-back nights, it’s not going to be easy. You’re playing a team that’s going to be desperate and they’re going to go hard at us. We know that they’ve been struggling lately.”
The Coyotes didn’t waste any time getting on the board. Just 1:48 in, Yandle took advantage of a Columbus misplay in the defensive zone to notch his fifth goal. Two Blue Jackets collided at the boards near the bench, the puck bouncing to Yandle who collected it near the top of the right circle. He skated unimpeded through the high slot and fired a hard shot that eluded Garon.
“I think it was my first shift so it’s good to go out there and get a goal and get the team going a little bit,” he said.
Columbus’ Jakub Voracek had six shots in the opening period, matching Phoenix’s total.
The next 46 minutes were scoreless, with few scoring chances.
The Blue Jackets finally evened things at 8:19 of the third while on the power play. Fedor Tyutin almost whiffed on a one-timer from the point, but caught just enough of the puck to send it lazily drifting to Nash at the right dot. He drilled it past LaBarbera to tie the game.
LaBarbera made two outstanding plays in the next two minutes, first blocking a drive by Derick Brassard and then stymieing Antoine Vermette after Nash slid a pass into the crease for a possible jam shot. But LaBarbera flicked the puck away.
Just over a minute into the overtime, Nash crashed the net and then backhanded a setup to Kristian Huselius at the left doorstep. But LaBarbera stopped two Huselius attempts.
“(Nash is) a world-class player when he gets in the slot like that,” LaBarbera said. “He seems like he wants to pass it a little bit more. I was kind of playing the pass more, I just read it really well. Luckily enough, Huselius was a little too close to me to kind of get it over me.”
The loss was the second in a row for Garon in shootouts after he set an NHL record with 13 consecutive tiebreaker wins. He is 18-6 in shootouts. He finished with 26 saves.
“I just got beat 5-hole,” Garon said. “I was trying to be patient and I waited a little too long.”
The Coyotes didn’t play their best, but still collected the victory.
“It was a masterpiece, wasn’t it? That was like a high-priced painting, that one,” coach Dave Tippett said sarcastically. “That wasn’t pretty, but they can’t all be pretty.”
NOTES: Doan became the second Coyote to reach 1,000 games and the 42nd in NHL history. He is the 24th player to do it with the team that drafted him. … Voracek’s seven shots were a career high. He hadn’t had more than four shots in a game all season. … Phoenix has won the last five games it has played in Nationwide Arena, outscoring the Blue Jackets 18-8.