Dave Tippett and the Phoenix Coyotes know that there was no need to panic. After losing their first two games on the road trip 10-2 and being outplayed in all directions, the team still knew they could salvage their final three game road stretch.
They not only were able to win the last three, but also made their presence known.
It all started in Detroit against opponent that had ousted them in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010 and 2011. Both teams remained even until late in the third when Michael Stone took a pass from newcomer Mike Ribeiro near the blue line and rocketed a slapshot past Jimmy Howard just seconds after Detroit’s Stephen Weiss’s penalty had expired. Stats were more or less even, but the Coyotes were able to keep up in the middle of their road trip. Simply put by goalie Mike Smith, “We figured out what we have to do to be in a hockey game.”
The Coyotes had to quickly regroup and travel further east to Pennsylvania and take on the Philadelphia Flyers less than 24 hours later. In Philadelphia, the Coyotes had to make due without Smith, as backup goaltender Thomas Greiss made his first start of the year. He had a taste of ice time against New York against New York as Smith was taken off before the third and stopped seven of the final eight shots. He became the story of the game, stopping 37 of 38 shots he faced and nearly saw everything he could in a hockey game, including a penalty shot that could have tied the game early from Adam Hall. It could have been mistaken to see Smith on the ice instead, as the flexibility and awareness were similar.
“Having a guy to come in and really make some good saves in critical times, building the confidence of the team, is what you look for in a tough situation,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “Thats exactly what you ask for from a backup goalie.”
The Coyotes again found themselves tied in the second until Oliver Ekmann-Larsson notched a power-play goal with 17 seconds remaining.
They finished the road trip against Carolina. Forward Rob Klinkhammer decided to join in on the fun scoring two goals including the game winner just seconds into the third period. For Klinkhammer, it was his best performance in his young career after spending his first six years in the AHL. Phoenix has been seeking someone to lift up spirits from the first line. Last season after being acquired from Ottawa, he earned 11 points in 22 games to score a two-year deal. The Coyotes on Sunday got their money’s worth.
“I just try to be reliable. I don’t do anything fancy,” Klinkhammer said. “Maybe it’s not the top-end NHL skill, but I can definitely get by in the AHL for sure. I was just consistent down there and put up a few points.”
Phoenix made the most to end their road trip. In two of the three games they were able to win from behind, keep near even in the shot battle, and win on the power-play. The Coyotes in their first two games on the road allowed four. In their final three they let in just one against their three. Ribeiro also earned assists in each of the final three games.
The Coyotes’s biggest fear after starting out slow was to come back to Phoenix with a losing record. Winning three straight shut those fears, but now they look to continue their hot streak as they return home to face Ottawa on Tuesday. Their next three of four games are at home.
Quick News and Notes
IceArizona officially entered a partnership with Global Spectrum, a worldwide leader in managing and operating sports arenas and stadiums, to manage Jobing.com Arena. Global Spectrum also manages the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals
Brandon Yip has been assigned to the AHL affiliate Portland Pirates. Yip last season scored three goals and five assists with the Nashville Predators in 34 games.
The Coyotes will introduce tailgating before all weekend home games starting October 19 against Detroit. Tailgating will start approximately four hours before game time.