The Phoenix Coyotes are fifth in the NHL in goals per game and seventh in power play percentage, but they rank near the bottom of the league in goals-against and penalty kill percentage. They entered Saturday’s game on a three-game losing skid, but got three goals from center Antoine Vermette to escape with a shootout win over the Ottawa Senators. With a 19-10-6 record they sit fifth in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division, but continue to showcase the potential to be a playoff contender thanks to their depth at center. Vermette’s hat trick gave him nine goals on the season and now gives the Coyotes three centers with nine goals for the season and seven players with at least 20 points. As they continue to struggle to find consistency on defense and between the pipes, this balanced offensive attack will be very important if they hope to reach the postseason.
Mike Ribeiro and Radim Vrbata lead the Coyotes with 26 points, while Shane Doan is having a renaissance season with 12 goals and 23 points and Martin Hanzal has come through with nine goals and 23 points. Hanzal, Vermette and Ribeiro are proving to be one of the best trios of centers in the league, and players like Doan, Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker are thriving while playing on their lines. Vermette scored on the power play in the second period on Saturday, and added another tally in the third. He saved his third goal for the biggest moment, beating Senators goaltender Craig Anderson for the game-winner just over two minutes into overtime. Having such a big night in Ottawa (where he spent five seasons playing for the Senators) should be a confidence boost for Vermette, and the win he helped provide hopefully gets the Coyotes moving in the right direction.