After Thursday’s practice at the ALLTEL Ice Den, Phoenix Coyotes head coach
Bob Francis stressed to his players the importance of outworking your opponents and paying the price to earn points in the standings, and with their performance on Friday night it was obvious the team listened._
Phoenix defenseman David Tanabe scored with 22 seconds remaining in overtime and goaltender Sean Burke made 23 saves leading the Coyotes to a dramatic 2-1 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues in front of 14,884 at AWA._ The win was the Coyotes third straight win over the Blues as the two teams have met three times in their past five season openers.
“Tonight was really a blueprint of what we need to do as a team to be successful,” said Francis._ “The defense did a tremendous job tonight shutting down their forwards, our forwards did a good job coming back in the play and helping the defensemen._ Our special teams were very good also.”
Tanabe, who was acquired by the Coyotes this past summer, made his regular season debut with the Coyotes tonight._ He led all Coyotes blueliners in minutes played Friday night with 23:34.
“Winning the way we did tonight is obviously a great way to start the season,” said Tanabe, who was the game’s No. 1 star._ “Wins like tonight’s builds confidence in our team and we know we need to get out to a good start this season and tonight will hopefully start us on that track.”
The Coyotes received quality goaltending once again from Burke, who was voted the game’s second star and made several quality saves throughout the night giving his teammates a chance to win the game.
“We initiated a lot of plays tonight and didn’t sit back and wait for the Blues to make plays,” said Burke._ “I was anticipating making some key saves at the right time tonight and that was the case._ St. Louis is a team that has a lot of patience and they can come at you pretty hard, but we did a good job limiting their chances.”
Phoenix opened the scoring when Daymond Langkow scored a power play goal at 8:43 of the first period giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead._ Langkow was screening Blues goaltender Chris Osgood and deflected Shane Doan’s wrist shot for his first goal of the season._
“If you are good on the special teams, that will help you win a lot of hockey games,” said Langkow._ “We worked hard as a team tonight and really earned the victory._ Our penalty killing units were also very strong and we did what we had to do to pull out a win.”
Phoenix took a 1-0 lead into the second period, but the Blues pulled even late in the middle period._ Keith Tkachuk scored a power play goal with 4:15 remaining in the second period tying the score at 1-1._ The Coyotes disputed the goal was knocked in the net with a high stick, but after review the goal was allowed.
“We thought we deserved better tonight,” said Tkachuk._ “It seemed like all of their goals were bad breaks and it was one of those games we let slip away._ The good news is that we got a point out of the game tonight.”
Phoenix will practice at the ALLTEL Ice Den in Scottsdale on Saturday at noon before boarding a plane to Anaheim later on in the afternoon._ The Coyotes will play the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Arizona time._ The game can be seen on WB6.
NEWS AND NOTES
WAYNE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT SEASON – Prior to the Phoenix Coyotes season opener against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, Coyotes managing partner and alternate governor Wayne Gretzky spoke with the Coyotes players and addressed members of the media.
“I had the opportunity to talk to the guys in the locker room before the game and I just wanted to give them my support,” said Gretzky._ “The organization is very excited about this season and tonight begins what is promising to be a season to remember._ We have a good core of young players that we expect to compete hard every night.”
LAST OPENING NIGHT AT AWA – With the Coyotes moving into their new home on December 27, Phoenix played in their final home opener at AWA Friday night._ Phoenix is now 4-3-1-0 in home openers since moving to the Valley in 1996._ Their franchise record in 25 season openers is now 11-10-4-0._ Friday night marked the first time in three years that Phoenix opened a season at home.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANE – Not only was Friday night’s home opener Shane Doan’s first game as captain of the team, but it was also his 27th birthday._ Doan finished the game with 18:25 of ice time.
OUT OF THE LINEUP – Phoenix decided to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen in their season opener against the Blues._ Left wing Andrei Nazarov, right wing Daniel Cleary and goaltender Zac Bierk were the Coyotes healthy scratches Friday night.
FIRST REGULAR SEASON GAME
– Rookie defenseman Matthew Spiller made his professional regular season debut on Friday night._ The 6-foot-5, 233-pound blueliner played 8:45 in 13 shifts.
COYOTES INJURY REPORT
Mike Sillinger (Hernia Surgery – 4-6 weeks)