February Of 2012 Was A Historical Month For The Arizona Coyotes Franchise.
Every Arizona Coyotes fan remembers the glorious playoff run in 2012. The team captured their first division championship in franchise history, secured the third seed of the playoffs, made it past the Western Conference Quarter Finals for the first time in Coyotes history, and even made it to the Western Conference Final game. The team seemed unstoppable, as they kept piling on wins.
The beginning of the 2011-2012 season had a much different story. The team had a few fresh faces on the ice, including first year goaltender Mike Smith. The Arizona Coyotes started out average, winning about half the games they played. Making the playoffs was the primary goal for head coach Dave Tippett, but due to their mediocre start, there was still a slight chance that they may miss them.
That all changed when the Arizona Coyotes took the ice on February 4, 2012 to begin the month’s action against the San Jose Sharks. The National Hockey League was not ready for the Arizona Coyotes in February of 2012. This was a team that was determined to make the playoffs. Guided by the phrase “Hockey the Hard Way,” the Arizona Coyotes played a physical game, centered around their defense.
Here’s how the month played out:
The Arizona Coyotes faced off against their Pacific-division rival, San Jose Sharks in the first game of February. The Sharks were one of the top contenders in the Western Conference at the time, and proved to be a tough opponent for the Coyotes. The Sharks would out-shoot the Coyotes 35-24 this game, but would only put three past Mike Smith. Lauri Korpikoski would headline this win, with two goals of his own.
Final Score: Coyotes- 5 Sharks- 3
The Coyotes rolled on with a familiar playoff foe, in the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings proved to be no match, as the Arizona Coyotes dominated this game from the beginning. Just like San Jose, the Coyotes would be out-shot 31 to 23, but had Mike Smith to bail them out. Smith finished the night with a .968 save percentage, and the first star of the game nomination. Martin Hanzal would score two for the Coyotes to lead his team.
Final Score: Coyotes- 3 Red Wings- 1
The first road game of the month was not a tough one for this Arizona Coyotes squad. They traveled to Dallas to take on the Stars at American Airlines Center. A total of ten Coyotes players would register a point this game, as four goals would be scored in this contest. Keith Yandle, Radim Vrbata, Raffi Torres, and Derek Morris would light the lamp in Dallas. The Coyotes would still not out-shoot their opponent.
Final Score: Coyotes- 4 Dallas Stars- 1
The Arizona Coyotes finally put up more shots than their opponent (35-24), when the Calgary Flames came to town. This would be the first game of the month that would require extra time, but the Coyotes would eventually prevail. Taylor Pyatt would provide the lone goal for the Coyotes in regulation, while Shane Doan would seal the deal on the powerplay in overtime. A week before this game, the Coyotes were on the outside looking in, at the 12th spot in the Western Conference. However, after securing the extra point against Calgary, the Coyotes would hop into the 8th seed.
Final Score: Coyotes- 2 Flames- 1 (OT)
Any time the Chicago Blackhawks and the Arizona Coyotes play each other, fans are in for a show. This game would be no different on February 11, 2012. Mike Smith would be the highlight, as he went on to stop all 38 shots he faced in his first shutout of February. Radim Vrbata, Boyd Gordon, and Kyle Chipchura would be the goal scorers for the hometown favorites.
Final Score: Coyotes- 3 Blackhawks- 0
This game would be a tough one for the Arizona Coyotes as they traveled to face the eventual 2012 Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks (111 points). This would be the only game in February where the Coyotes would not come out on top. This game was low scoring, as only David Booth (VAN) and Keith Yandle (ARI) would score; sending the game to overtime. Overtime would not give the fans a winner, as they moved right along into a shootout. Booth would put a puck past Jason LaBarbera in the fifth round of the shootout to seal it for the Canucks. The Coyotes would come out with only one point.
Final Score: Canucks- 2 Coyotes- 1 (SO)
You can expect a physical game whenever the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings meet. This game was hard fought, with a battle of two elite goaltenders in net. Mike Smith and Jonathan Quick would put on a show at Staples Center on February 16th. Only one goal was scored that night, and it came from the stick of Radim Vrbata. Mike Smith would go on to post his second shutout of the month by stopping all 28 shots he faced.
Final Score: Coyotes- 1 Kings- 0
The Arizona Coyotes faced off against the Dallas Stars for the second time this month, but this time on home ice. These Stars proved to be tougher than they were earlier in February, as the Coyotes had to settle this in overtime. This game had the same story as the previous ones with Mike Smith being the star (stopping 30 of 31 shots). Radim Vrbata would eventually become the hero in overtime.
Final Score: Coyotes- 2 Stars- 1 (OT)
The Arizona Coyotes had another thrilling game against the Los Angeles Kings on February 21st. This game was much different than their first meeting, as scoring was on display. This would be Mike Smith’s first bad game of the month, as he finished with a save percentage of .862. Both Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan moved on to score two goals each to send it into a shootout. The goalies redeemed themselves in the shootout by putting on a show, until Mikkel Boedker put the game winner past Jonathan Quick.
Final Score: Coyotes- 5 Kings- 4 (SO)
The Calgary Flames gave the Coyotes all they could handle, but it still wasn’t enough. The Coyotes clawed back from a two goal deficit to tie the game back up in the second. Goals by each side would send this game into overtime, and then eventually a shootout. Ray Whitney would go on to score the only goal in the shootout to give the Coyotes the victory.
Final Score: Coyotes- 4 Flames- 3 (SO)
The Arizona Coyotes dominated this late-month game against the Edmonton Oilers. Oliver Ekman-Larsson put the Coyotes on top early on in the first period to set the tone for this match-up. Ray Whitney followed up with his own later that period, as well. Mike Smith looked sharp stopping 21 of 22 shots in this Arizona Coyotes win.
Final Score: Coyotes- 3 Oilers- 1
The Coyotes faced off against the tough Vancouver Canucks again to finish out the month of February. This would be a low scoring affair, as each side would put only one goal past the opposing goaltender. The game would not be decided in extra time either, as both Mike Smith and Cory Schneider continued to battle it out for the win. The shootout was a familiar place for the Coyotes this month, and it showed. Both Ray Whitney and Mikkel Boedker scored in the shootout for their final February win. Mike Smith would finish the game with a .975 save percentage.
Final Score: Coyotes- 2 Canucks- 1 (SO)
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