It's impossible to lose a hockey game if the other team is unable to -- as the saying goes -- put the biscuit in the basket. That being the case, having Phoenix Coyotes net-minder Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes is an asset any team would be happy to have. In other words, the dude's nasty.
Bryzgalov stopped 29 shots to shut out the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina -- Bryzgalov's NHL-leading eighth shutout -- as the Coyotes won 4-1.
The Yotes are on the road to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, and that road takes the team away from home for 10 of its remaining 14 games. But if the team can remain as strong on the road as they were Saturday, it shouldn't be a problem.
"Just a solid road game," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "[Bryzgalov] cleaned up the few chances that we gave up, but other than that we had a real good group effort."
Lee Stempniak got the scoring started for the Coyotes early in the first by beating Carolina goalie Justin Peters to his right off a pass from Vernon Fiddler.
Stempniak struck again later in the period on a power play, after Carolina forward Jerome Samson was sent to the penalty box for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking.
Stempniak has scored four goals since joining Phoenix less than two weeks ago, after his trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, a deal that is now giving the team's front office a little more street-cred after receiving some criticism over personnel earlier this season.
Stempniak wasn't the only Coyote to find the back of the net -- twice.
Coyotes forward Martin Hanzel sneaked two goals past Peters, one about half-way through the second period off of a pass from Shane Doan.
Hanzel's second goal came early in the third after the Coyotes finished killing a penalty -- another aspect of the game the Yotes are beginning to master.
Phoenix had three penalties on Saturday, but a combination of strong defense and Bryzgalov acting like a brick wall kept Carolina from capitalizing on any of them.
The Coyotes hit the ice again Tuesday, when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa Bay.