Todd Bertuzzi is known as a bruising power forward, but Thursday his graceful spin-o-rama backhand move on the final shot of the shootout would be the difference in the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
The shootout loss would be the second in a week for the Coyotes against the Western Conference leading Red Wings. As the all-star break approaches, the team knows that every point counts. "We had a group out there that fought hard to get the points," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "It's too bad we couldn't come away with two."
Raffi Torres scored his seventh of the season on a quick wrap around and newcomer Gilbert Brule continues to impress, scoring his second of the year Thursday. Both goals were assisted by Kyle Chipchura, who now has four points in his last three games.
When the Coyotes play good teams they cannot give them chances, and that is exactly what happened against the Red Wings. The 'Yotes bench would be called for three too many men on the ice penalties Thursday. "Obviously, we've got to clean that up," center Gilbert Brule said. "But sometimes it's just miscommunication. That happens, but obviously next game that's not going to happen. We won't have three of those, I'm sure, again."
Luckily, the Coyotes top ten penalty kill unit was up to the task and the Red Wings would not score on five power play chances.
Mike Smith bounced back from one of his worst performances of the season against the Ducks 24-hours earlier with a 33 save performance. Smith also had a highlight reel save on Pavel Datsyuk in the shootout that got the fans out of their seats in a packed Jobing.com Arena. Unfortunately Smith is not responsible for putting puck in the net during the shootout.
Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Brule were the shooters for the Coyotes but none of them could find the back of the net. Vrbata has had success on his patented backhand move in the shootout this year, but the Coyotes leading goalscorer decided to change it up and go on his forehand. The shot was easily snatched by Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Howard would have 31 saves Thursday.
The Coyotes got Martin Hanzal back Thursday, but Daymond Langkow would leave in the first period after appearing to take a stick or puck to the face. The extent of the injury is unknown and the Coyotes are crossing their fingers that the veteran center will not miss an extended amount of time. The Coyotes have had awful luck with injuries to the center position this year.
Currently, the Coyotes sit in 12th place in the Western Conference but are only two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Saturday the Coyotes will get a chance to capture a win on home ice when NHL goal leader Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town. The game can be seen at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Arizona.