The defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins (25-9-1) were in town Wednesday night, and while they may have captured an overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes (18-15-5), they also got a taste of what "Hockey the Hard Way" is.
David Krejci put Coyote fans on edge after putting a puck past Jason LaBarbera less than a minute into the game, but luckily that would be the only goal the Bruins would tally in regulation. The standing room only crowd in Jobing.com Arena didn't give up on their 'Yotes after the quick goal and continued to set a playoff-like atmosphere for their team.
Ray Whitney, wearing a velcro assistant captain badge on his jersey for the injured Martin Hanzal, continued his strong play against the defending champs. His five-hole goal with five minutes left in the first tied the game 1-1 for the Coyotes and ignited the record crowd.
The 19-year veteran Whitney was without a doubt the best player on the ice for the Coyotes Wednesday. He used his wizard-like vision to set up teammates, was consistently in scoring position and put a team-high four shots on goal.
Another veteran who has embodied the slogan "Hockey the Hard Way" is Raffi Torres. After having his best game as a Coyote Monday night, Torres came out with another fiery performance against the team he faced in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. His teammates seeing his bloodied face skating away from a fight near the end of the first period set the tone for the rest of the game.
The second and third periods went by with no scoring and only one power play, but the goaltenders kept fans on their feet with numerous big saves.
Jason LaBarbera made his fourth consecutive start for the injured Mike Smith, and after being pulled from the game Monday in Anaheim he looked very impressive in net. His highlight of the night came when he made a breakaway glove save on Brad Marchand in the third that kept the game 1-1. LaBarbera would finish with 27 saves.
The Bruins have won 11 of 13 games to move back on top of the Eastern Conference while the Phoenix Coyotes have dropped three in a row, only winning three of their last ten games.
The Coyotes gained a valuable point in the standings for pushing the game into overtime, even though they surely would have like to get a rare W on home ice. The Coyotes will finish the month of December without a home win, going 0-5-2.
The Coyotes will be on the road Thursday to face the Colorado Avalanche. Fox Sports Arizona will carry the game and puck drops at 7 p.m. Arizona time.