Key in on Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, stalking him like a shadow, and then there would be left winger Alex Ovechkin plotting his next surge up the ice. Such is the beautiful see-saw of an attack the Capitals usually rely on to garner wins. Focus on Backstrom, and Ovechkin will find the space to dangle. Guard Ovechkin, and Backstrom will make the defense regret that decision. But on Monday night when Backstrom and Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals took their show to Jobing.com Arena, the Coyotes were able to shut down both offensive juggernauts en route to a 3-2 win for sole possession of the Pacific Division lead with 69 points. "Shutting those guys down isn't easy," forward Ray Whitney said. "I thought our defensive pairing of (Keith) Yandle and (Derek) Morris and then (Eric) Belanger's line did a good job on that. You're always going to realize they're going to get some chances. For the most part, I thought they did a pretty god job." No doubt the pair was circled on the game plan as the players to watch; Backstrom had nine points in his previous five road games, with Ovechkin adding 10 during that span. But they combined for only eight shots, and their score sheets were left blank after Monday's game thanks to a stringent effort by the Coyotes. "It was staying close to them, stick on stick and really having a good back check," forward Scottie Upshall said. Players limited their lanes to the perimeter and jabbed their sticks in front of shots. The duo had a solid opportunity on a late-second-period power play in which Ovechkin had a puck just waiting for his stick outside goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's crease, but Bryzgalov pounced on the puck, sliding all the way to the tip of the playoff circle.
Coyotes shut down Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom
Arizona Republic | Feb 15