Sjostrom and Hanzal lead Coyotes to 4-1 victory over Devils
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Fredrik Sjostrom managed to smile through the pain.
After staking the Coyotes to a 1-0 lead, Sjostrom crashed heavily into the boards behind the Devils’ net midway through the second period and had to be helped off the ice.
He returned for the third period and helped Phoenix score three more goals in a satisfying road win. Sjostrom said after an extended session in the postgame training room that his back and buttocks were sore.
“I think the butt took most of it,” he said. “In that way, I was lucky. I couldn’t move for a few seconds. I’ll take it any day to get a win like that.”
Linemate Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes, who are 2-1 at the midpoint of a season-high six-game road trip.
“Our line played well the whole game.” Sjostrom said. “This was huge for us.”
Goalie Mikael Tellqvist also came up huge.
A backup since the arrival of Ilya Bryzgalov, Tellqvist made 30 saves in his first start for Phoenix since Nov. 12. He lost the shutout when Zach Parise scored a short-handed goal with 6 minutes remaining.
“I felt a little stiff in the beginning,” Tellqvist said. “I got a couple of easy saves at the start and I kind of worked myself into the game. The guys came up big for me in the second and third.”
The loss ended the Devils’ five-game winning streak at home and was only their third loss in their last 13 games. New Jersey never had a consistent flow as they were constantly killing penalties. Phoenix had nine power plays, converting only one.
“It’s tough,” Parise said. “You have certain guys that penalty kill and guys that don’t. It’s tough to get a flow, tough to get a rhythm. At the end of the day, we didn’t work hard enough to win. There is no way around that.”
The Devils held a 10-9 edge in shots in the scoreless first period.
Hanzal made a nice pass to set up Sjostrom for the only goal of the second period. After cutting toward the New Jersey net, Hanzal backhanded the puck to Sjostrom, the trailer in the left circle, and he ripped a shot past Martin Brodeur at 3:32.
Sjostrom wasn’t around long to enjoy the tally as he limped off to the locker room. He returned for the third period and the reunited line clicked three times. Hanzal again was the playmaker as he found Vrbata by the goal line. Vrbata flipped the puck inside the left post for his team-leading 12th goal to put Phoenix up 2-0 at 5:19.
Sjostrom struck again, getting a power-play tally at 9:08.
After Parise cut the Phoenix lead to 3-1, Hanzal scored on a short-handed breakaway with 2:50 remaining.
After a nine-game winning streak, the Devils have lost three of four.
“When the effort is not there, it’s a tough one to take,” Parise said. “We played well in the first period but the rest of the game was frustrating.” <
The Devils rested D Paul Martin, who missed three games last month with lower body soreness. With Martin sitting out, the Devils dressed seven defensemen and scratched C Mike Rupp. … The Devils play another home game Sunday against Philadelphia. … Phoenix last played in New Jersey on Dec. 2, 2003.