Defense and playoff-caliber goaltending, the Phoenix Coyotes' watchwords in the fastest start in franchise history, helped them out again.
Rick Tocchet had a goal and two assists, and infrequent scorers Teppo Numminen, Brad Isbister and Dallas Drake netted goals as the Coyotes beat Vancouver 4-2 Wednesday night to run their unbeaten streak to nine games.
"We came out a little sloppy, but we held it together," Jeremy Roenick said. "This was a big character win for us,"
The victory, the Coyotes' third in a row, left them tied with idle Dallas for leadership of the Pacific Division. It also denied Canucks coach Mike Keenan his 500th career victory.
Roenick had three assists and Keith Tkachuk two before Keenan pulled goaltender Garth Snow with 15:41 left in the game. Snow gave up four goals on 25 shots. Corey Hirsch finished with two saves for the Canucks.
"I want to play him tomorrow, so I just decided to give him the rest of the night off," Keenan said.
Snow's last straw was Drake's second goal of the season, a flick into the net of a rebound after a slap shot by Roenick.
"This was probably Jeremy's best game of the year," said Tkachuk, who plays left wing to Roenick's center on the first line. "When you have a guy like that playing that way, you are going to win a lot of games."
Undefeated Jimmy Waite allowed an early goal to Vancouver's Dave Scatchard and one with 3:54 left to play to Peter Zezel.
Afterward, he talked like a goalie in a zone.
"Now more than ever we believe we should win every game," he said. "I feel real good. I feel confident, definitely. Even with the screens I casee the puck right now."
Waite (4-0-1), whose NHL-best goals-against average rose to 1.00, had 28 saves to make it 12 consecutive games in which the Coyotes have allowed no more than two goals.
In the second period, Waite made three spectacular saves in 45 seconds.
He had a stick save on a slap shot by Josh Holden rushing down the slot. Holden got the rebound on the fly and fired a riser that Waite caught in his glove while falling backward into the net, stopping play with 5:26 remaining in the period.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Waite stopped a sizzling shot from 30 feet by Trent Klatt.
Holden said it was unusual for a backup to play the way Waite has in starting the last four games. Nikolai Khabibulin has a bruised hand and is expected to return soon.
"When you come across two goaltenders and, on any given night, you can play them and they're going to stand on their heads, what more can you ask for?" Holden said. "It's a compliment to them, knowing that they're working to challenge each other, and it's good for the team. It doesn't come around too often."
Scatchard scored with 9:29 left in the first period when he reached for a pass from Klatt in the circle and flipped it backward past Waite.
The Coyotes tied it on Tocchet's sixth goal, only the Coyotes' sixth power-play goal in their first 57 advantages. Tocchet backhanded the puck across the crease, and it deflected off the skate of defenseman Adrian Aucoin and into the net.
"He played it perfectly," Snow said about Aucoin. "He gave me the shooter and he took the pass. I mean, if the puck did get to the other guy (Roenick) it would have been nullified by the defender. He did a great job; it was just a bad break."
Numminen sent the Coyotes to a 2-1 lead with 1:43 left in the period with a graceful move, firing the puck from the off wing while falling to the ice. It was his second.
Isbister's goal, a slap shot from the slot 1:27 into the third period, was his first.
"That one gave us a boost and a lot more comfort," Roenick said.
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