'Yotes Win Streak Extends its Roots
Yesterday the Shane Doan hockey card tree was born.
Its creation was not planned, per se (impromptu trip to the card store with friends = every single Doan card being thrown in my direction, even on the part of the manager) but it was certainly timely, as last night's game marked his 1,098th in the league, tying the Jets/Coyotes' all-time games played mark last reached by Teppo Numminen.
Then he did one better than that, scoring in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers to secure Phoenix's eighth straight win with a "heck of a shot" that flew past Sergei Bobrovsky with just over three minutes left in the extra frame. The goal was his third in as many games, after having undergone a 14-game drought.
Ville Leino was credited with the first tally of the night as a Matt Carle shot deflected off both Leino and Coyotes' defender Sami Lepisto at 6:24 of the opening period. It was the only goal that stood through the first 40 minutes. Also, in the second period, Flyers' defenseman Oskars Bartulis, playing in a rare game due to Sean O'Donnell's injury, left the game with an upper-body ailment of his own thanks to a somewhat controversial hit by a former wearer of the orange and black, Scottie Upshall.
"I was just going hard to the net," [Upshall] said. "I didn't intentionally go to hit him, let alone hit him into the boards. You know what? I've been off balance before where you can't find your footing and you try to plant. It was a play that is usually a routine shoulder-to-shoulder kind of play going hard to the net. I hope he's all right. Those plays happen a lot when it's just guys standing up to each other."
An Eric Belanger marker tied the game at 1 to open the third, and Taylor Pyatt's team-leading 16th goal of the season (tied with Upshall) gave the 'Yotes the lead for the first time in the game. It was Claude Giroux who forced overtime with only 1:13 left in regulation, as one of the players grabbing a minus on the play was Shane Doan. He was quick to redeem himself, however, as Kimmo Timonen served a hooking minor and the Coyotes went 4 on 3, with Radim Vrbata setting up the captain over on the left side of the net.
Ilya Bryzgalov was a story once again in this game, with 37 saves in the win. Previous to this game he had a 1.55 goals-against average and two shutouts as part of Phoenix's win streak. Now his record stands at 27-14-6, a 2.55 GAA, and a .919 save percentage. He was named the third star of the night, behind Montreal's Carey Price and San Jose's Joe Thornton.
Now the Coyotes, who played last night's game without leading scorer Ray Whitney and defenseman Adrian Aucoin, are set to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Lightning have a stellar home record of 19-7-4, but have not played since Saturday where they suffered a 3-2 shootout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers. The game gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EST, and will be Shane Doan's franchise record-breaking 1099th.
As for the tree? It will continue to grow, largely in part to Twitter contributions and the fact that I can never say no to new hockey cards. Likewise, here's hoping the Coyotes continue to grow in the way that they have been.