Phoenix at Tampa Bay

Coyotes 2, Lightning 1


TAMPA, Fla. -- Officially, it will go down as historic victory for the Coyotes. However, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett doesn't want to hear it.

Vernon Fiddler and Matthew Lombardi scored in a two-minute span midway through the first period, Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 27 shots and Phoenix beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Tuesday night for the Coyotes' franchise record-tying 43rd victory.

"For me, it's a skewed record because of the shootout situation," Tippett said. "It's great for the players. It's great any time you can set a record. They'll have that in their back pocket for the rest of their lives."

Phoenix won its sixth straight and moved five points behind Western Conference-leading San Jose in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes began the night tied with Vancouver for third place overall in the conference, but the Northwest Division-leading Canucks still hold the third seed.

"We just take it one at a time," Tippett added. "We've got to continue to improve our game."

Bryzgalov faced back-to-back Lightning power plays in the third period but held strong and turned away several scoring opportunities in the final two periods.

Phoenix started out strong and their aggressive play paid off with goals from Fiddler and Lombardi.

Fiddler's goal was the result of a one-timer off a beautiful feed into the slot from Lee Stempniak. Lightning goalie Antero Nittymaki stopped the initial shot but lost control of the puck as it found its way into the back of the net.

"It's not easy to win games this time of year, and we're finding ways," Fiddler added.

Lombardi made the score 2-0 when he took a pass in the center from Wojtek Wolski and slipped a backhand shot past Nittymaki.

"I thought we came out and played a good road period and we were able to get a bit of a lead," Tippett said. "Second period, I thought we went soft a little bit.

"It was kind of a workmanlike two points for us against a team that was desperate for points."

Todd Fedoruk scored the lone goal for the Lightning thanks in part to a tremendous effort from Brandon Bochenski, who split three defenders on a dash to the net and fed Fedoruk at the last possible moment. Fedoruk's shot bounced off the post and into the net.

The Lightning had several more opportunities in the period with the closest coming on a power-play opportunity when Steven Stamkos shot from the slot hit Bryzgalov's shoulder pad and bounced off the cross bar.

In the third period the Lightning continued to charge the net but when turned away time and time again by Bryzgalov.

"It's been a struggle to score goals," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "I can't question the team's courage. You've got to get players to go in front of the net.

"It's tough because these are must-win games."

The loss further diminished the Lightning's playoffs hopes as they fell six points behind Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Nittymaki finished with 26 saves.

"It's very disappointing," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "We work hard again and no results, no points."

Phoenix, on the other hand, continued to roll toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the league's best defense and a goalie playing some of his best of the season -- two things the usually spell success in the postseason.

"We don't have the star power that Tampa has," Lombardi said. "But we've got a bunch of guys that play hard and believe in ourselves."

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Phoenix  (43-22-5) «2002
Tampa Bay (28-29-12)0101
Three Stars
I. Bryzgalov

Saves: 27
Save Pct.: .964
M. Lombardi

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
M. Lundin

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
07:56Vernon Fiddler (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stempniak
09:45Matthew Lombardi (15), Backhand Shot. Assist: Wolski, Doan
16:07Todd Fedoruk (3), Backhand Shot. Assist: Bochenski, Parrish
Penalty Summary
01:26Jovanovski, 2 min, Holding
06:33Fedoruk, 2 min, Slashing
13:06Hanzal, 2 min, Cross-Checking
02:53Nokelainen, 2 min, Hooking
05:56Yandle, 2 min, High-Sticking
06:26Downie, 2 min, Tripping
12:28Meszaros, 2 min, Holding
Shots On Goal
Tampa Bay813728
Ilya Bryzgalov60:00271
Antero Niittymaki59:10262
Game Information
Attendance - 14517
Referees - Bill McCreary, Brian Pochmara
Linesmen - Tim Nowak, Vaughan Rody
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