Coyotes hold off Devils for second straight win
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes gave Dave Tippett his 450th career victory with just the kind of game the coach loves: gritty defensive play, strong goaltending and a bit of resiliency.
Martin Hanzal had a goal and an assist, Mike Smith stopped 32 shots and the Coyotes held off the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Saturday night, handing Tippett another milestone win.
"If you’re going to win in this league, you need that (gritty play) every night," said Tippett, who also notched his 100th home victory in Phoenix. "It was nice to see us come through with a couple wins like that."
Coming off a shutout victory in their last game, the Coyotes got off to a strong start with a pair of goals from their fourth line.
Jeff Halpern had one and Jordan Szwarz got the other before playing the third period with stiches in his chin after being cut with a skate late in the second.
Hanzal gave the Coyotes a two-goal cushion, but they had to hold on against the Devils’ big push to earn their first winning streak since beating the Avalanche and the Islanders on Dec. 10 and 12.
"One of our key points coming in was getting off to a fast start, and I felt like we did a good job doing that," Szwarz said. "We put a lot of pucks behind their defense and we were able to block some shots early to get off to a good start, then finish it off."
New Jersey got off to a sluggish start at the end of a four-game road trip before rallying to make it close. Ryane Clowe had a goal and an assist and Jaromir Jagr scored his 696th career goal with 2:14 left in regulation.
Jagr had another good chance with just over a minute left but was stopped by Smith as the Devils’ point streak ended at six games.
"We got off to a slow start, and that was disappointing, inexcusable really for not having played yesterday," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. "We can’t spot anyone two goals. That’s the bottom line."
Phoenix got back to its defensive roots in its last game Thursday night, beating Vancouver 1-0 behind Smith’s first shutout of the season and the return of defenseman Zbynek Michalek after he missed 13 games with a hip injury. Before that, the Coyotes had been erratic in their own end and lost 12 of their previous 16 games.
The Devils have had the opposite problem. They have been solid behind the blue line lately, allowing six goals over the past five games. The problem has been scoring: New Jersey has scored 117 goals, 25th in the league.
The Coyotes were sharp in the first period. Kyle Chipchura tracked down the puck behind the goal and sent a pass out front to Szwarz, who one-timed it past Martin Brodeur’s stick side for Phoenix’s first even-strength goal in more than 184 minutes. Halpern made it 2-0 by taking a feed from Moss at the blue line, skating in and beating Brodeur to the glove side from the left circle for his second of the season.
Phoenix dominated most of the opening period, but New Jersey got on the board when Clowe punched in a power-play rebound for his second of the season at 18:44.
Hanzal put the Coyotes up 3-1 late in the second on a power play, tipping a shot by Keith Yandle and then muscling it past Brodeur for his 14th of the season.
Jagr cut the lead to one after New Jersey pulled Brodeur for an extra attacker, but Smith made some tough saves in the final minute and got some help from the rest of the Coyotes, who blocked three shots in the last 15 seconds.
"If we would have had at least two lines going, it would have been a different story, but we only had one line doing anything," Jagr said.
NOTES: The Coyotes have scored a power-play goal in seven straight games. … New Jersey had killed off 16 of 17 penalties before Hanzal’s goal with the man advantage. … The Coyotes and Devils had not played since Oct. 27, 2011, a 5-3 Phoenix win in Glendale. … The Devils have lost four straight in Arizona dating to 2003.