Murphy scores first NHL goal as Coyotes double up Lightning
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy admitted he had a stomach full of butterflies before his NHL debut Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"(Keith) Yandle pulled me aside right before we went out and said in his first game, they lost 9-1. That kind of calmed me right away," Murphy said, laughing.
Murphy, the Coyotes' first-round pick (20th overall) in 2011, scored his first career goal on a slap shot from the point through center Martin Hanzal screen, and Phoenix continued its dominance on home ice this season with a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Jobing.com Arena.
"Obviously you dream about that moment and I haven't actually scored a goal all year in the minors so it was good to get it out of the way," Murphy said.
Phoenix scored on two of its first three power plays and built a 3-0 lead to run its record in Glendale to 9-0-1, in the process handing Tampa its first loss against a Western Conference opponent this season (7-1-0).
Murphy was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League on Friday due to two more injuries along the Coyotes blue line -- a problem that has plagued the team all season. But with a defense that featured four players 24 or younger and Keith Yandle (27) as the elder statesman, the Coyotes somehow held Tampa to just 16 shots through the first two periods, reversing a recent trend in which Phoenix had been badly outshot in nine of its previous 10 games.
"Our puck play was very good out of our zone, right through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We went younger tonight. We tried to go quicker and move the puck better, defend less. That was the theme going into the night."
Defenseman Michael Stone put the Coyotes on the board at 15:58 of the first period, taking a cross-ice feed from center Mike Ribeiro and ripping a one-timer past goaltender Ben Bishop with center Martin Hanzal screening Bishop. It was Stone's sixth goal of the season and third in his last two games.
Hanzal scored his sixth of the season just 57 seconds later when he banked a centering pass off Bishop's left skate from the corner for a 2-0 lead. Ribeiro widened it to 3-0 when he corralled a loose puck in the blue paint for an easy tap-in and his sixth goal of the season.
That was all for Bishop, who entered the game with the NHL's fifth-best goals against average (1.96) and the ninth-best save percentage (.932). He allowed three goals on 14 shots before being replaced by Anders Lindback.
"It was just one of those nights," Bishop said. "They're not always going to be good nights and tonight wasn't good. It wasn't the way we want to play."
Tampa sandwiched goals by right winger Richard Panik and right winger J.T. Brown around Murphy's blast from the point through another Hanzal screen. Panik's and Brown's goals were their first of the season and Brown's cut the Phoenix lead to 4-2 after two periods. But Coyotes captain Shane Doan added his team-high 10th goal of the season to restore the three-goal lead at 5-2 early in the third period.
"We've played 20 games and I am the farthest thing from disappointed," Tampa coach Jon Cooper. "This game could have happened in Game 1, Game 6, Game 10, Game 20. I'm looking at a big picture. We're pretty much at the quarter pole and I like the way we play.
"Do I like the way we played tonight? No, but I'm not disappointed in our team."
Center Alex Killorn scored with 1:02 remaining in the game for Tampa's final goal. Left winger Lauri Korpikoski added an empty-netter off an assist from Hanzal, who tied his career high with four points.
NOTES: Coyotes D David Schlemko left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury and did not return, forcing Phoenix to finish the game with five defensemen. D Zbynek Michalek and D Derek Morris missed the game with lower-body injuries. They are day-to-day. ... Tampa is the only team in the NHL that has not lost consecutive games this season. ... Coyotes G Mike Smith entered Saturday having played the most games (18) and most minutes (1,047) while having faced the most shots (607) and made the most saves (557) of any goaltender. ... Tampa only allowed six first-period goals all season before Saturday. Phoenix scored two. ... Tampa killed 44 of its last 46 penalties before Saturday, only allowing one power-play goal in its last 10 games. Phoenix scored on two of its first three power plays.