The Coyotes’ game against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday featured an NHL rarity — two penalty shots — and seemed destined to end in similar fashion, a shootout.
But a goal by Shane Doan with 4:42 remaining lifted Phoenix to a 2-1 victory in front of an announced sellout crowd of 17,799 in Phoenix’s home opener at Glendale Arena and gave Wayne Gretzky his first coaching win.
Doan, standing in front of the net, scored when he deflected a one-timer by Sean O’Donnell from the left corner of the Coyotes’ offensive zone and the puck bounced past Dwayne Roloson.
"It wasn’t too pretty, but it bounced in. I’ll take it any way we can get a win," said Doan, who spent extra time during Friday’s practice working with assistant coach Rick Tocchet on deflecting shots.
The biggest excitement of the night came on the two penalty shots, one by each team, a feat which had never happened in a Coyotes/Jets game and one that hadn’t been accomplished in the NHL since a Jan. 27, 2004 game between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
Following a six-player fight, center Randy Robitaille’s power-play goal on a rebound put Minnesota up 1-0 13:32 into the first period. But the Coyotes (1-2-0) evened the score with 1:13 remaining in the first when left wing Ladislav Nagy converted his penalty shot.
Nagy, who was activated from the injured list (bruised collarbone) prior to the game, was hooked from behind by Nick Schultz. Nagy came in from Roloson’s left and fired it home just by the outside of Roloson’s right leg.
The Wild’s penalty shot came after right wing Alexandre Daigle’s path was impeded by defenseman Zbynek Michalek with 2:17 left in the second. However, Daigle’s shot on Curtis Joseph sailed wide to the goalie’s right.
"You try and know who you’re facing, and obviously Daigle is a very skilled forward with lots of speed," said Joseph, who entered the game with a career 1.79 goals against average in seven games vs. the Wild, his best against any opponent. "You just try and minimize what he sees, try and be big."
Joseph continued his dominance of Minnesota (1-1-0), finishing with 23 saves.
"I’ve never seen two (penalty) shots (in one game)," said Gretzky, who added it was "nice" to get his first win. "Usually you see one shot per team in a whole season. To see two in one night is pretty rare, but that’s exciting for the fans. For us to get one, and Nagy to score and to have one against us, and Curtis to not allow him to score, you can’t ask for a better opening night."
Coyotes center Mike Ricci had his nose broken with 8:29 left in the game when a shot by Schultz deflected off the stick of Phoenix’s Boyd Devereaux and hit Ricci in the face. He received stitches after the injury and will be reevaluated today. . . .Defenseman Derek Morris, who is nursing a sore groin sat out his second straight game. . . . In a pregame ceremony, the Coyotes established their Ring of Honor and inducted Bobby Hull as the inaugural member.