Found March 23, 2012 on Fox Sports Arizona:
San_jose_sharks_e509
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even before Coyotes captain Shane Doan's three-game suspension was handed down Wednesday, more than one player mentioned that the looming penalty just meant other guys needed to bring a little something extra. "At the end of the day, it's going to be a chance for other guys to step up coming down the stretch," left wing Raffi Torres said at the time. No one could have known it then, but "other guys" apparently meant "me," as Torres took it upon himself to help fill the void with a two-point game in the Coyotes' 3-2 win Thursday night over the Avalanche. "The guys knew they had to step up," coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some guys step up and take the minutes. That's what makes our team the way we are: We can find ways to do things like that." With Doan serving the first game of his suspension for an elbow to the head of Stars forward Jamie Benn on Tuesday, the Coyotes entered the final playoff push under the gun. Beating the Avalanche, who are also battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, was a huge first move. The two-point boost moved the Coyotes from ninth and out of the playoffs to tied for the Pacific Division lead (with the Kings at 86 points) and in -- for now. "We showed some character and grit with our captain out of the lineup," said goalie Mike Smith. "Obviously he's missed, but guys stepped up in his place tonight." Torres has come on strong of late, with goals in four of the previous seven games. Right from the start Thursday night, he set the tone for an aggressive attack. Just three and a half minutes into the game, Torres set up center Daymond Langkow for a goal amid three defenders just in front of the crease, the first time the Coyotes had scored first since March 10. Torres was initially credited with the goal, but further review gave Langkow the goal (his 10th of the season) and Torres the assist. No matter: Torres would get his goal, and it proved the difference-maker. A goal from center Kyle Chipchura near the end of the first period had given the Coyotes a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission, but that advantage wasn't as comfortable as it seemed against a Colorado team that entered the night hot, with wins in 11 of its last 15 games. Torres took to padding the Coyotes lead in the middle period. With 3:05 remaining in the second period, Torres controlled a rebound off Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov on the left side and fired the puck right back for his 16th goal of the season. "We're just keeping it simple," Torres said. "Just keep cycling pucks, keep using the back and eventually it's going to open up for you. If you keep working the (defense), they're going to fall apart." The third period brought a momentum shift, and the Coyotes watched their lead shrink as Colorado got physical. The Avalanche got third-period goals from centers Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stasny to cut their deficit to one. The Coyotes held on, though, making Torres' goal all the more important in hindsight. Torres' play of late, at a time when things have been especially tight, is exactly what the Coyotes expected when they acquired him in the offseason. They believed his physical style would provide a needed boost come this time of the season, and he's delivered. "He's shooting the puck hard, he's going to the net hard," Tippett said. "He's been a real valuable player for us. If you look at (Torres') history in the playoffs and late in the year, that's when he plays his best. That's what you're seeing right now." Torres' explanation of his recent surge accentuated his understanding that, in the thick of a playoff race, every shot has to matter. That's been the difference lately. "It's shooting to score and not just shooting to get pucks on the net," Torres said. "Trying to put pucks in the back of the net." Little did the Coyotes know when they brought him in that Torres' late-season surge would help make up for Doan's absence. With Doan out for two more games, though -- tough contests against San Jose and St. Louis -- Torres' performance will remain paramount. But he's not alone. Gilbert Brule, too, came up big Thursday with two assists. And Smith notched 39 saves for his 100th career victory. The Coyotes are far from secure in their quest for a playoff spot, but with Torres and the rest stepping up in their leader's absence, they couldn't have gotten off to a better start.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Coyotes will host surging Avs without Doan

Following a nearly perfect February, wins have been hard to come by this month for a Phoenix Coyotes team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Making matters worse, they'll have to host the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night without their captain. The NHL suspended Phoenix right wing Shane Doan three games Wednesday for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head...

NHL suspends Doan three games

Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan has been suspended for three games because he elbowed Dallas' Jamie Benn on Tuesday night. The NHL announced Doan's punishment on Wednesday night and says he will give up more than $166,000 in pay for the elbow, which happened nearly six minutes into the second period of the game Dallas won 4-3 in a shootout. Doan was assessed a two-minute...

Doan gets 3-game suspension for elbow

Watch a video clip of the incident and hear Brendan Shanahan's explanation for the punishment. Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan has been suspended for three games and will forfeit 166,463.40 for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn during Tuesday night's game in Dallas. Doan, who received a three-game suspension in October 2010, is classified as a repeat offender...

Coyotes C Doan faces disciplinary hearing

Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan faces a Wednesday hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety for a hit in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.Doan made contact with Stars forward Jamie Benn's head while delivering a hit in the second period. Benn appeared dazed but played the rest of the game. Doan received a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play."...

NHL suspends Coyotes captain Doan 3 games

The NHL suspended Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan three games for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn in Tuesday's game. Doan was punished as a repeat offender. He also was suspended three games in October 2010 for a dangerous hit, and last week was fined $2,500 for a boarding penalty. The incident occurred during the second period of Dallas' 4-3 shootout victory...

Coyotes' Doan Gets a Three-Game Ban

Shane Doan is the latest player to book a suite at the Shanaban Hotel. The Coyotes captain was suspended for three games, following a hearing regarding his elbow on the Stars' Jamie Benn during Tuesday night's contest. While it's going to be tough for the slipping Coyotes to maintain traction in the Western Conference playoff chase, by losing their captain and third...
MAYHEM ENSUED

Video: Cheap head shot sparks huge brawl

A headshot like this will probably earn a suspension. Not thinking this is the type of behavior the NHL wants to condone in future hockey games. At 5:54 in the second period Tuesday night, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars took a nasty shot to the jaw from Phoenix Coyotes Capt. Shane Doan. Benn fell to the ice. This sparked some brawling between the two teams and a whole ton of...

Shane Doan hit on Jamie Benn

I can find no reason the NHL shouldn't suspended the Coyotes forward Shane Doan for this bush league, unnecessary and dirty hit on Dallas forward Jamie Benn. I also don't see how anyone can defense this hit? Rightfully so, Shane Doan has a hearing this afternoon with the department of players safety this afternoon. Anyone want to guess on what kind of a suspension...

Adam French: It's a Double Pinch!

Strange plays, hard work and stepping up just about sums this game up. Without Shane Doan who will miss the next two games as well due to his suspension, not too many people knew what to expect. You just had to hope some of the depth would step up. They did that and more. The bottom-six got it done at both ends of the ice. To make matters even more strange, it was the first game...

3 Game Suspension For Shane Doan

Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.

Avalanche-Coyotes Preview

Following a nearly perfect February, wins have been hard to come by this month for a Phoenix Coyotes team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Making matters worse, they'll have to host the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night without their captain. The NHL suspended Phoenix right wing Shane Doan three games Wednesday for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head...

All Heck’s Breakin’ Loose!

I was called a sucky ***** yesterday for believing that hockey fights are only a part of the game when hockey has actually been played, so I wanted to share footage of a completely justified bloody brawl. During the second period of Tuesday night’s game between the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes, Coyotes captain Shane Doan gave Stars forward Jamie Benn a suckerpunch elbow to...

Duncan Keith's hit on Daniel Sedin

With Shane Doan getting suspended for three games for elbowing Jamie Benn in the face, you've got to think that the Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is going to get a game or two suspension for taking out the Canucks star forward Daniel Sedin with this high elbow to the head. These types of dirty hits are not acceptable and the NHL needs to be more proactive in removing...

The Playoff Race In The Western Conference

from Stu Hackel of the Red Light, Yesterday, we looked at the East and today, let’s take stock of the Western Conference where, realistically, it appears that the Oilers, Wild and Ducks are close to joining the Blue Jackets in the Also-Ran department, too far out of contention with too few games left for us to believe they can make a serious charge to eighth place. Beyond that...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.