CALGARY, Alberta - This wasn’t supposed to happen in the new NHL. Rules changes enacted in the offseason were aimed at increasing scoring.
But the Coyotes and Calgary Flames on Monday pulled off what seemed like an impossibility, playing with one goal or less on the board until the final minute.
Mike Ricci, who came off the injured list prior to the game, scored the gamewinning goal in an extremely physical contest, won 2-0 by the Coyotes at the Pengrowth Saddledome. With the victory, Phoenix (2- 4-1) ended a six-game losing streak to the Flames and won for the first time on the road this season.
Coyotes goalie Curtis Joseph stopped 25 shots as he earned career victory No. 398 and his 44th career shutout.
"If we can keep it low and win the low-scoring game, certainly that would be nice," Joseph said.
Phoenix scored with 12:46 left in the third period when forward Fredrik Sjostrom’s shot from the center of Phoenix’s offensive zone, bounced up off goalie Mikka Kiprusoff, off the glass before Ricci put the puck in the back of the net. Defenseman Paul Mara assisted on the goal to reach 100 points for his Coyotes career.
"Freddy made a great shot, it bounced off the glass, I went to the net and it was sitting there," said Ricci. "Lucky me."
Mike Devereaux added an empty-net goal with 35 seconds left.
Oleg Saprykin, who played five seasons in Calgary before joining Phoenix this season, was awarded a penalty shot with 9:29 remaining in the game, but his attempt sailed wide.
Phoenix’s Tyson Nash was elbowed hard in the face by Darren McCarty late but he said he was fine.
Calgary center Matthew Lombardi suffered a leg injury 3 1 /2 minutes into the third period when he slid into the boards. He didn’t return.
GAUTHIER ON IR
Defenseman Denis Gauthier will have surgery on his broken right hand this morning and is expected to be out at least four weeks.
Gauthier, who was placed on injured reserve, will have a pin inserted in his pinkie, which was broken Saturday when Detroit’s Brendan Shanahan checked him into the boards.
"He was playing very well for us, brought the physical presence every night that we were looking for when we traded for him," general manager Mike Barnett said.
Rather than call up someone to take Gauthier’s roster spot, the Coyotes will go with six defensemen until another one is needed, Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said.
Rookie Matt Jones would likely be the first call-up from San Antonio.
"I have no hesitation of throwing Matt Jones in our lineup," Gretzky said.
RETURN OF GRETZKY
Tonight’s game at Edmonton will mark the coaching debut of Gretzky in the city where he had the most team success, winning four Stanley Cups. Gretzky has been back multiple times since he retired as a player but said he never thought he’d be coaching in the Oilers’ arena one day.
"Every building has its own place you think about whether it’s here (Calgary) tonight where we had so many great battles or tomorrow night where it’s only great memories," Gretzky said before Monday’s game. "It’s (going to be) a really exciting night, and I’m looking forward to it."