COYOTES_BEAT HURRICANES_3-0_- BOUCHER RECORDS THIRD STRAIGHT SHUTOUT
By:_ Damon Markiewicz
One was neat, two was sweet, and three probably just knocked Phoenix Coyotes fans off their feet._ That is probably the best way to describe goaltender Brian Boucher’s current shutout streak.
Boucher recorded his third straight shutout making 26 saves leading the Coyotes to a 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of 10,155 at the RBC Center on Sunday afternoon._ Boucher extended his shutout streak to 205:45 and improved his unbeaten streak to seven games (4-0-3)._ The Coyotes now have a record of 14-12-11-2 and are 5-1-5 in their last 11 road games.
“What can you say, the guys are playing so well in front of me right now and we are playing with a lot of confidence,” said Boucher, who improved his season totals to 4-2-4 with a 1.93 goals against average and .936 save percentage._ “We continue to realize this is an important stretch of games for our team and we want to remain over the .500 mark._ I am seeing the puck well right now, but my teammates are really competing hard and overall this was another great team effort.”
Boucher became only the second Coyotes goaltender since the team moved to the Valley in 1996 to earn three straight shutouts._ Nikolai Khabibulin was the last Phoenix netminder to record three straight shutouts dating back to March of 1997._ Boucher hasn’t allowed a goal since the 19:15 mark of the second period during the Coyotes game on December 22 at Nashville._ Boucher now has 10 career shutouts and should be the front-runner for the National Hockey League’s “Player of the Week.”
“Hockey is a funny game at times,” said Boucher, who is in his second full season with the Coyotes._ “You can end up going 80 games without recording a shutout and next thing you know, you collect three straight._ Maybe they just come in bunches for myself, but the bottom line is, we are winning as a team._ We still have two tough games on this road trip and we need to remain focused.”
Once again, the Coyotes used a solid team effort and received their offense from several different sources._ On Sunday, it was the line of Ladislav Nagy, Jan Hrdina and Branko Radivojevic that contributed with a combined two goals and five assists for seven points._ Both Radivojevic (0-3-3) and Hrdina (1-2-3) had three-point efforts against the Hurricanes._ Phoenix has now scored 13 straight goals against their opponents dating back to the overtime loss against the New York Rangers on December 29.
“Right now, we have everyone contributing and different players are stepping up each night,” said Coyotes head coach
Bob Francis._ “Tonight it was the line of Hrdina, Radivojevic and Nagy providing some offense._ Once again our defensive effort was solid and you can’t say enough good things about Brian (Boucher)._ He has been so consistent for us and was again today.”
After a scoreless first period, the Coyotes opened the scoring for the fourth straight game when Nagy tallied his 19th goal of the season on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with Hrdina and Radivojevic._ Later in the middle period, it was Hrdina’s turn to convert when he knocked home his seventh marker of the year at 14:19 of the second period putting Phoenix on top 2-0.
“Branko (Radivojevic) made a great play to set up two goals in the second period and we have been playing well together,” said Nagy, who is second on the team in scoring with 19-21-40 totals in 38 games._ “We were able to generate some offense today and both Jan (Hrdina) and Branko are very talented players and as a line, we help make our jobs easier for each other.”
The Coyotes have been searching for that killer instinct and they found it once again as Paul Mara sealed the victory in the third period when he scored his second goal of the year at 12:29 of the final period giving the Coyotes a 3-0 lead.
“We have been stressing the importance of putting teams away when the opportunity presents itself and we have been doing just that recently,” said Mara, who scored his first goal since October 25 at San Jose._ “Brian (Boucher) has been playing outstanding in goal and we have also been backing him up very well._ It is nice to see a guy like Brian battle through some adversity at the start of the season and now have success._ We are playing very strong as a unit and it can’t stop here, it has to continue.”_
Phoenix’s road trip continues against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Minnesota on Friday night._ Game time Wednesday will be 5:00 pm Arizona time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net Arizona and KDUS 1060 (AM).
NEWS AND NOTES
13 STRAIGHT GOALS – Dating back to December 29 against the New York Rangers, the Coyotes have now outscored their opponents 13-0, including 10 different goal scorers.
INCHING CLOSER – Coyotes left wing Ladislav Nagy scored his team leading 19th goal of the season on Sunday and is now only four goals shy of his career high in a single season._ Nagy’s scored 23 goals in 74 games during the 2001-02 campaign.
SCORING FIRST – Phoenix has now scored the game’s first goal in their last four contests._ The Coyotes are 11-3-6-1 when striking first this season.
HOT HRDINA – Coyotes center Jan Hrdina now has 5-6-11 totals in his last 10 games and has registered at least a point in six of his last seven games.
SUCCESS AGAINST CAROLINA – Not only did goaltender Brian Boucher earn his third straight shutout, he improved his success against the Hurricanes._ Boucher has a record of 5-1-0 with a 1.67 goals against average in six career games against Carolina.
THREE STRAIGHT – With their win on Sunday, the Coyotes have now won their third straight game since they started the season 3-0-0._ Phoenix is now two games over the .500 mark since they were 3-1-0 back on October 17.
TONIGHT’S STARTING GOALTENDERS
Phoenix – Brian Boucher (3-2-4, 2.13 gaa, .930 save percentage)
Carolina - Jamie Storr (0-4-2, 3.02 gaa, .877 save percentage)
TONIGHT’S LINEUP SCRATCHES
Phoenix – Mike Johnson (Shoulder Surgery), Landon Wilson (Groin Contusion), Andrei Nazarov (Healthy)
Carolina – Ryan Bayda (Healthy), Niclas Wallin (Healthy)
TONIGHT’S LINE COMBINATIONS
Fredrik Sjostrom – Daymond Langkow – Shane Doan
Ladislav Nagy – Jan Hrdina – Branko Radivojevic
Brian Savage – Chris Gratton – Daniel Cleary
Jeff Taffe – Mike Sillinger – Tyson Nash
Paul Mara – Cale Hulse
Ossi Vaanenen – David Tanabe
Radoslav Suchy – Brad Ference