To say that this evening’s 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins with an undermanned roster was anything less than outstanding, would be a gross understatement.
Regardless of the fact that Evgeni Malkin missed the game for the Pens, picking up a road victory with the back-up goaltender in net against one of the Eastern Conference’s elite, signifies a whole lot of toughness and grit on the part of the Coyotes.
Getting the scoring underway was David Moss who found the back of the net for his seventh of the season, as the Coyotes once again jumped in front on the road—a critical component to winning in hostile environments. Moss’ first period goal earned him the game’s second star.
Antoine Vermette did some scoring of his own later in the period on the Coyotes first power play of the evening. By going 1-for-5 on the power play, Phoenix was able to maintain their stronghold on the league’s third highest goal-scoring percentage with the extra man.
Let’s not act as if Thomas Greiss is some slouch in between the pipes. His past two seasons, he has proven himself quite the amiable backup as a member of the San Jose Sharks. Even though he’s only appeared in 16 games this season, his SV% is at the highest of his career at .924. The majority of Coyotes fans would not want to ride him through the playoffs, but in these critical games, things could be much worse.
Even though he only registered 23 saves on the night, it is truly astounding that he did not receive one of the game’s three stars. Standing on his head nearly the entire evening, Greiss brought those on Twitter and on couches around the valley to ecstasy as he snared Sidney Crosby’s attempt in the games waning minutes.
As of now, Mike Smith is listed as day-to-day. From everybody inside the organization, they don’t seem to be overly panicked about the situation; regardless of how gruesome it looked initially. In a best-case scenario, Smith would probably join the team for its remaining few games were they imperative to obtaining a playoff berth.
Tonight’s game winner came more than midway through the second period, albeit, a go-ahead-for-good goal nonetheless. Mikkel Boedker punched in his 18th of the year off the assist from Shane Doan and Michael Stone. Receiving the love was Doan, whose two assists, two hits and two blocked shots, earned him first star honors.
Maybe as important as the two points the Coyotes picked up, was the zero that the Dallas Stars gained. Running into the Chicago Blackhawk buzzsaw, the Stars fell by a score of 4-2, putting them three points back of the ‘Yotes for the eighth seed in the West.
Rather than looking behind, Phoenix can look forward as they are now just three points behind Minnesota for the seven slot. The next time the Coyotes take the ice, they will be rounding out the east coast trip in New Jersey with a 4 PM puck drop. With a matchup against the Wild looming large on Saturday, it becomes crucial to attempt to pick up a point against the Devils.