Maybe they don’t get the job done in the sexiest way possible, but make no mistake about it. The Phoenix Coyotes are the hottest team in the NHL right now.
Want proof? OK, here are some numbers that make the claim borderline inarguable.
- They just beat the league-leading Vancouver Canucks 2-1 via a shootout thanks in a large part to Ray Whitney’s third period game-tying goal.
- Phoenix holds the NHL’s longest active winning streak (six games in a row).
- The Coyotes will end the night on top of the Pacific Division whether the San Jose Sharks hold on to win against the Philadelphia Flyers or not.
- Dave Tippett’s team was undoubtedly the best squad in February, going a stunning 11-0-1 (albeit with four shootout wins.)
- Mike Smith is barging his way into the Vezina Trophy argument, even if many will discount his work – quite reasonably – because of the system in front of him. Still, his 11-game winning streak leaves him at 29-14-7 with impressive individual numbers.
Yup, that’s an impressive run for a Coyotes team that looks bound to defy expectations (and some might say, logic and reason) for a third consecutive season.
Of course, the bigger question might be: can Phoenix finally translate its regular season work to playoff success? It’s tough to say, but let me provide the first bit of advice: avoid the Detroit Red Wings at all costs.
There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.
Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.
With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.
Here is the Star Spangled Banner:
Here is O Canada:
Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.
Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.
However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.
The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.
For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.
The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.
Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.
By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.
That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.
They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.
This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.
Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.
Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.
But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).
He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.
You can see it in the video above.
After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.
The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.
The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.