Sincere apologies for last week's missing week in review column. My wife decided that giving birth to our first child one month early (a beautiful baby girl) took precedence over my blogging duties. And what a week to have missed. I was actually pretty bummed because of all the up and down articles I had been writing, and here were the Coyotes putting together a string of good games and I wasn't able to write about it. But then they just kept winning and winning and winning, so here we go.
The Coyotes are on an NHL season best (tied) seven-game winning streak, and are unbeaten in regulation over their past nine games (7-0-2). They have improved their overall record to 11-5-5, good for 27 points, first in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference behind the hated Detroit Red Wings. The past few weeks have been nothing but highs for the Desert Dogs and we'll give a game-by-game quick review after the jump.
Monday November 8 at Detroit, 3-2 Loss (OT)
The last game before the winning streak saw the Coyotes head in to "Hockeytown" to take on the Wings for the third time already this season. The Coyotes played one of their frustrating games where they couldn't maintain pressure after gaining a 2-1 lead, allowing Detroit to tie the game in the third and win in OT on a delayed penalty call -- something that has plagued the Coyotes this season. As the winning streak began the following game, however, the Coyotes propensity for taking penalties also seemed to fade away, with the Coyotes taking no more than four penalties in any game during the streak.
Wednesday November 10 at Chicago, 2-1 Win
Jason LaBarbera got the start in net and gave up a pretty frustrating goal early in the contest, but was solid from then on out. The Coyotes scored two goals in 35 seconds in the second period and then held off a ferocious push from the Blackhawks to beat the defending champs 2-1 at the United Center.
Friday November 12 vs. Calgary, 5-4 Win
The score makes this game seem closer than it really was, as the Coyotes gave up two goals in the final minute to make things interesting. The story of this game was the first career hat trick by Vernon Fiddler, the Coyotes' third hat trick of the young season. Ilya Bryzgalov played a strong game, but the team defense shut down in the final minute, allowing Calgary those two goals and causing Bryz to storm off the ice at the final horn.
Saturday November 13 vs. St. Louis, 5-3 Win
By all accounts, since his early injury, free agent signee Ray Whitney had been playing fairly solid hockey, collecting a bunch of assists, but frustrating fans with his failures to light the lamp. All that changed as Whitney notched his first, second and third goals of the season, recording the fourth Coyotes hat trick of the season and the very rare back-to-back hat tricks for the team (the fourth time in franchise history!). Fans were getting a little spoiled at the arena, and I had to purchase another new hat for the second straight night. Perhaps this is how the Coyotes plan to raise team revenue in the future -- a good plan, I must say.
Wednesday November 17 at Calgary, 3-1 Win
Road trips through Western Canada (Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) have not been kind to the Coyotes in recent years and the three-game win streak was in jeopardy as the Coyotes ventured north of the border, even though Calgary and Edmonton are having rough starts to the season so far. Well, the first game in Calgary showed that 'Yotes fans had little to fear as the Coyotes survived a sluggish first period to score twice in the second with a beauty of a goal from Wojtek Wolski and a power play tally from Martin Hanzal, and then survived the late scare from the Flames before Lauri Korpikoski iced it with an empty netter.
Friday November 19 at Edmonton, 4-3 Win (SO)
Despite Edmonton's record, they jumped out on the Coyotes to a 3-0 lead before Radim Vrbata (1G, 2A) and Ray Whitney (3A) helped turn this game around for the Coyotes late in the second, bringing the Coyotes within a goal. The tying goal from Wolski came with just 35 seconds left on the clock and Bryz on the bench for the extra attacker. The Coyotes would win an exciting shootout (their first victory after regulation on the season) on a fantastic move by Eric Belanger.
Sunday November 21 at Vancouver, 3-2 Win
The Canucks have had a better start to the season than their Canadian brethren, but were coming off a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the Blackhawks and looked to want some payback against the Coyotes. The Coyotes held the game scoreless through the first and then jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Scottie Upshall and Taylor Pyatt. The Canucks responded later in the second with two quick goals on some lucky bounces, but the Coyotes fought back in the third and won it on a Pyatt redirection off of a Keith Yandle drive. The Western Canada sweep was complete.
Tuesday November 23 vs. Edmonton, 5-0 Win
Perhaps the most decisive victory of the Coyotes' young season came as the Coyotes returned to home ice to face those same Oilers that gave them fits just four days earlier. The Coyotes left nothing to chance here, getting two goals each from Martin Hanzal and Lee Stempniak en route to Ilya Bryzgalov's first shutout of the season. Hanzal's first goal came just 48 seconds in to the first period and the 'Yotes never looked back, dominating all areas of the game despite being severely shorthanded on defense with Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin missing the game.
So there you have it. Seven wins in a row as the Coyotes head in to the Thanksgiving holiday (US version for our Canadian readers ;) Their next game is Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks before they head back on the road to face the Wild and Predators. The game will not be locally televised, so your only chance to catch it is by heading out to Jobing.com Arena. Gametime is at 6 p.m. -- take a break from Christmas planning/decorating/shopping and support the best sports team in the Valley! We'll see you there!
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