Sullivan’s Hat Trick; LaBarbera fills in for injured Smith to propel Coyotes to first victory 5-1


Steve Sullivan and Ollie the Trolley score all 5 goals in the 5-1 rout.

Jan. 23, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Steve Sullivan (26) scores his third goal on the night on Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason (1) Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Jason LaBarbera stepped in for an injured Mike Smith who left half way through the first period with what looked like a groin injury. Media reports it as a lower body. I never liked hearing lower or upper body. So vague yet not descriptive at all.  Losing Smitty for any more than a few games could spell doom for the Coyotes. Waiting on more results to determine the extent of the injury. Look for a call up from AHL or a minor trade to insure the crease a bit. Visentin having a solid season for the Portland Pirates may be the favorite to step up. Jason LaBarbera looked solid giving up only 1 goal in two and a half periods. Saved 21 shots from the Blue Jackets but he owed a lot from his defense who played much better. You squint and can actually see coach Dave Tippett’s teeth marks on their backsides.

Fedor Tyutin started the scoring fir Columbus early second period but it was all Coyotes after that scoring 5 straight goals.

Steve Sullivan tied the game with 13 mins left in the 2nd period and Ekman-Larsson put the Yotes ahead for good with a late 2nd period goal.

More Sullivan in the 3rd period with a gorgeous wrister straight away during a 5 on 3 power play after Columbus was whistled for 2 straight slashes in a matter of seconds. Midway through the final period on a harmless looking play Sully got one to trickle slowly past the Jackets goalie Mason. The hats flew onto the ice after that. Not bad for a guy who missed the final half of Sunday’s game after a hard check. Ollie sent the modest home crowd with a later 3rd period icing on the cake to give this future star his multi-goal game.

Overall this was more like Coyotes hockey. sure it was a bit lack luster for the first half hour but after the Blue Jackets broke into the scoring column the Coyotes were operating at a frenzied pace.

This was hockey the hard way and even though early on it felt like a must win in this shortened season.

Coyotes back at it tomorrow night at San Jose at 8:30 pm AZ time. The Sharks will be a much tougher match up in their barn especially if LaBarbera has to play back to back.