The Phoenix Coyotes and their playoff aspirations were flying off the rails until the team's elder statesman settled down his squad by scoring the go ahead goal in the third period against the visiting Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Phoenix jumped out a 2-0 lead in the first period. Blew that lead in the second period but the Coyotes captain Shane Doan scored the winning goal midway in the final period in a 3-2 victory.
Phoenix responded to the challenge handed down by their head coach Dave Tippet after their abysmal second period.
“Tipp (Dave Tippett) wasn't overly happy with us,” Doan said. “It wasn't as much X's and O's. He just kind of wanted to challenge us to be better. He challenged us. We were given opportunities and obviously it was good we took advantage of them.”
Phoenix jumped out a 2-0 lead in the opening period.
Coyotes defenseman Chris Summers scored the first goal of his NHL career at 4:35 in the first period. Summers was assisted Lauri Korpikoski and David Moss.
“It's a great moment,” Summers said. “Every player dreams of playing in the NHL and every player dreams of scoring a goal in the NHL. I'm not one to score many goals but I'm glad it came when it did.”
Phoenix bumped their lead to 2-0 after Rob Klinkhammer scored his 10th goal of the season at the 9:43 mark. Paul Bissonnette and Keith Yandle tallied assists on the play.
After a solid opening stanza the Coyotes regressed in the second period and gave up a pair of power play goals.
Tied in the 2-2 in the third period the Coyotes took advantage of a Calgary penalty as Doan scored the 350th goal of his career.
“We got up 2-0,” Tippett said. “They pushed hard in the second, got themselves back in the game. In the third we played hard. We drew some penalties. Fortunately our power play, which has been our strength all year, got us the winning goal.”
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made 29-saves and earned his 25th win of the season. Smith and the Coyotes defense played their best after Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was nailed with an interference penalty with 1:12 left in the game. Despite the man advantage the Coyotes shutdown the Flames last gasp.
“Big (penalty) kills by our team,” Smith said. “Just dedication to put your body on the line to win hockey games. That's what it is going to take to get us in the playoffs.”
The Coyotes improved to 32-25-11 with the win. They are tied with the Dallas Stars for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference but Phoenix has played two more games than Dallas.
The Coyotes have Sunday to rest before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Monday. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. (PT)