GLENDALE, Ariz. – Phoenix jumped on a tired team early, played sound in its own end and got another superb game from goalie Mike Smith.
This is precisely the how the Coyotes need to play—and not a bad way to head into a rare extended break during this strike-shortened season.
Smith stopped 30 shots for his third shutout, Keith Yandle scored in the opening minute of the first period and Mikkel Boedker did the same to start a finishing flourish in the third, lifting the Coyotes to a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames Monday night.
“It’s rewarding when we play the right way,” Smith said after his 22nd career shutout. “Tonight was a great win for our team, a great confidence builder.”
Playing in front of a standing-room only crowd at Jobing.com Arena, the Coyotes attacked Calgary early, scoring 41 seconds into the game on a rebound goal by Yandle for his fourth point in two games.
Phoenix kept up the pressure to start the third, getting a goal by Boedker 30 seconds in before pouring it on against a team that played the night before.
Antoine Vermette and Raffi Torres scored later in the third period and each had an assist. David Moss had two assists against his former team and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two assists as well.
The Coyotes also were solid inside their blue line, forcing the Flames out wide and cleaning up any rebounds that came off Smith, winning for the sixth time in eight games.
“It was a solid game throughout, we did a lot of good things in the game, so there are things we can reinforce during practice and hopefully build some momentum on the road,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, whose team doesn’t play again until Saturday.
Calgary faded in the final period after rallying the night before.
Goalie Danny Taylor seemed to recover after giving up the quick goal to Yandle in his first NHL start, but couldn’t sustain it, giving up four goals on 37 shots. The Flames didn’t help him much, unable to get a puck past Smith after scoring three goals in the third period to beat Dallas the night before.
“He was very calm and very poised for his first start in the NHL,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “I think he would have liked to see the second goal (again), but at the same time, if you don’t score goals, you can’t even look at what the goalie did for you because you can’t win if you don’t score.”
The Flames have played well lately despite their revolving door of goaltenders.
Starter Miikka Kiprusoff hasn’t played since Feb. 5 because of a sprained knee and Calgary sent Leland Irving to Abbotsford of the AHL after he gave up two goals on four shots in 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Friday.
Joey MacDonald, picked up off waivers from Detroit last week, earned his first victory with Calgary after the Flames rallied with three goals in the third period for a 4-3 win over the Stars on Sunday night, giving them at least a point in three of four games.
Against the Coyotes, Hartley decided to go with Taylor, whose only previous NHL experience was one period with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2007-08 season.
Phoenix got to him right away, with Yandle punching in a rebound after a sharp-angle shot from Moss, a former Flames forward, caromed off Taylor into the slot.
The Coyotes beat Taylor again early in the third period when a shot by Ekman-Larsson bounced hard off the back boards to the other side of the goal. Taylor dropped to his knees as he scrambled around the crease, but Boedker’s shot slipped between his legs and bounced off his right pad into the goal.
Vermette, who had an assist on Boedker’s goal, scored later in period by swatting the puck in during a scramble in front, and Torres scored on a wrister from along the right boards.
“I feel like I can play this game at the NHL level, it’s just a matter of staying focused for 60 minutes,” Taylor said. “If I’m not in the moment all the time, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re not going to play in this league.”
The Coyotes have gotten back to their defence-first style after a rough start to the season, earning at least a point in eight of 10 games, including a pair of shutouts by Smith.
Smith was sharp again against the Flames, positionally sound and tracking the puck well as the Coyotes limited the chances in front of him in the first period.
He was just as good in the second when Calgary picked up the offensive pressure, turning away 13 shots, including a snatching glove save on a wrister by Lee Stempniak late.
The Coyotes limited the chances against Smith in the third period and he stopped everything that got through the defence, sending the Coyotes into a four-day break with a solid all-around victory.
“We’re building our games, no doubt about that,” Vermette said. “We’re doing some good stuff. We obviously want to get better every night, but we’re obviously moving in the right direction.”
NOTES: Willie O’Ree, the first black player in NHL history, attended the game and received a loud ovation when he was interviewed on the video scoreboard. … The Coyotes played without RW Radim Vrbata and D Derek Morris due to injuries. C Matthew Lombardi and D David Schlemko also are on injured reserve. … Phoenix’s Paul Bissonnette and Calgary’s Tim Jackman had a short fight in the first period that the officials broke up when Jackman pulled Bissonnette’s jersey over his head and kept punching.