Coyotes hold on to beat Devils in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Captain Shane Doan started laughing when asked if the Coyotes suddenly had a goalie controversy.
"Goalie controversies are always good, because that means they are both playing well," Doan said after the Coyotes defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout Thursday night to improve their playoff chances in the Western Conference.
Phoenix, which currently holds the second wild-card spot, got five of six possible points on its just-completed three-game road trip and opened a five-point lead over idle Dallas.
What made this trip so special was that No. 1 goalie Mike Smith went down with a lower-body injury late in the third period of the opener against the Rangers, but replacement Thomas Greiss posted wins over the Penguins and Devils.
Phoenix’s only loss on the road trip was in overtime against New York.
"We have a ton of confidence in Greisser," Doan said. "Everybody in here has been shooting on him all year, and when he has gone in, he has been amazing. I don’t know what his save percentage is, but it’s .925 or .930. He has been amazing for us."
Greiss made 26 saves and stopped shootout attempts by Damien Brunner, Ryane Clowe and Patrik Elias in matching his career high with his ninth win (9-5-2) of the season.
The trip did not start out well for Greiss. He gave up the tying goal late and the winner in overtime to the Rangers.
But that didn’t bother the 28-year-old German, who was backed up by Smith on Thursday.
"That’s the goalie’s job, to have a short memory," Greiss said. "You just have to forget that stuff and move on."
Mikkel Boedker scored on Phoenix’s first shootout try against Martin Brodeur with a top-shelf backhander.
"I went with a move I was comfortable with, and it’s always good when the goaltender bites on your fake," Boedker said.
Kyle Chipchura and Chris Summers scored for the Coyotes, who blew a 2-0 lead.
Clowe and Adam Henrique scored for the Devils, who fell to 0-9 in shootouts this season and extended their NHL-record streak to 13 straight losses dating to last season.
While the Devils picked up a point, they are currently out of the playoff picture with nine games to go.
"It’s a big part of the reason the playoffs are getting tougher and tougher to reach," said Brodeur, who finished with 25 saves. "So many points we’ve left on the table through the year. I figured we were due. It’s been a while — we haven’t been in one. I was feeling good about it mentally. I thought we were going to pull through this one and boost our confidence a little bit knowing we’re able to do it, and again it was the same old thing."
New Jersey appeared to be in trouble when Summers scored with 3:03 left in the second period to give Phoenix a 2-0 lead.
The Devils got back in the game with a little luck after the Coyotes were called for delay of game in the final minute of the period. Brodeur scrambled to the bench and Clowe scored with less than a second left as he lay in the crease. The big left wing was cross-checked by Jeff Halpern, and defenseman Jon Merrill’s pass through the crease caromed off his chest and slid past Greiss, who had stopped the Devils’ first 16 shots.
Henrique tied the game midway through the third period, taking a pass from Elias and beating defenseman Michael Stone with a move behind the net for his team-leading 24th goal.
Chipchura, who had a goal and an assist against the Rangers on Monday in Madison Square Garden, scored his fourth of the season 2:21 into the first period. Lauri Korpikoski sent a pass from behind the net to Chipchura, who put a shot under Brodeur’s pad.
Summers, called up from the minors this month, made it 2-0 with a slap shot from the point that beat a screened Brodeur.
NOTES: Brodeur picked up his third assist of the season and the 45th of his career on Henrique’s goal. … Korpikoski had missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury. … Devils captain Bryce Salvador was out with a lower-body injury. … The Coyotes beat the Devils 3-2 in Glendale in January. … Coyotes D Connor Murphy, recalled from Portland (AHL) on Wednesday, was in the lineup. …Phoenix RW David Moss left in the second period with a lower-body injury.