GLENDALE, Ariz.(AP) — Winning the close ones has become a habit for the Phoenix Coyotes. So has winning at home.
Antoine Vermette scored the deciding goal in the shootout for the second straight game, and the Coyotes won their fifth in a row, a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Vermette, who gave the Coyotes a victory at San Jose on Saturday, trickled the puck just past the line in the sixth round of this tiebreaker. Henrik Sedin lost control of the puck on his chance after Vermette’s goal, and the Coyotes skated off with their third consecutive shootout win.
“It was a game of inches,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said, “you see that puck just slide over the goal line.”
Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan scored in regulation for the Coyotes, 7-0-1 at home. Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Kesler had goals for Vancouver.
Vrbata had the other shootout goal for Phoenix. Alex Burrows was the only one to score in the tiebreaker for the Canucks.
The series of close wins bodes well for the Coyotes, Doan said.
“You get on a roll and you have confidence in a tight game,” he said. “It makes a huge difference. It’s a mental thing. The more confident we get, the better off we’re going to be.”
Winning at home also is a good sign if Phoenix is to be a contender.
“If you look at all the teams that have a chance to win or be playoff teams, they all have a good home record,” Tippett said. “So that’s something we’ve talked about as a group, and we have to continue to push that. If we can establish a real good home feel and make this a hard place for teams to come and play, I think that carries over to your road record, too.”
Vancouver, which had won five of six, took the lead with two goals in the first 4:15 of the second period. Only 25 seconds in, Hamhuis scored with a wrist shot just after a faceoff in the Coyotes’ zone. The puck sailed to the left of goalie Mike Smith and into the net.
The go-ahead goal came on a power play with 15:45 left in the period, a sharp slap shot from a few feet inside the blue line by Kesler for his ninth goal of the season.
Phoenix tied it 2-2 with 2:21 left in the period when Doan slammed a one-timer past goalie Robert Luongo on a pass from Keith Yandle.
“That’s just a great play by Keith Yandle,” Doan said. “Not too many (defensemen) in our league would make that play. Most would just step into that and shoot that. We’re fortunate we’ve got some guys back there that drive our whole offense.”
Vancouver coach John Tortorella blamed himself for Doan’s goal.
“I tried to stretch my bench, and I shouldn’t have,” he said. “You can put that on me. I shouldn’t have had my fourth line out there.”
The Coyotes were called for too many men on the ice during a line change in the final minute of the second period, but killed the penalty that stretched into the first minute of the third.
The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead just 1:15 into the game when Vrbata tipped in a goal after a deflection of Martin Hanzal’s shot.
Phoenix had two quick chances for more with a pair of early power plays, the first when Sedin drew a penalty for hooking, the second on a slashing call against Kesler. But the Canucks, among the best in the NHL in penalty-killing this season, shut down both opportunities.
The Coyotes had a couple of good opportunities during the first power play and none on the second.
Smith, who had 48 saves at San Jose, made 31 against Vancouver. Luongo stopped 30 shots.
NOTES: Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris left in the first period with a lower body injury. … All six of Vrbada’s goals have come at home. … Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek played in his 600th NHL game. … The Coyotes’ only loss at home was on Oct. 15 in overtime against Ottawa. … Vancouver opened a four-game trip with stops ahead in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.