Originally created 01/13/04

Lucky bounce finishes goalie's shutout streak



GLENDALE, Ariz. - Brian Boucher had another brilliant game in goal for the Phoenix Coyotes. No shutout this time, though.

One of the NHL's most remarkable streaks ended in the Coyotes' 1-1 tie with the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday night. After Boucher had made 146 consecutive saves, Randy Robitaille's slap shot glanced off Phoenix defenseman David Tanabe's chest and into the net 6:16 into the game.

The goal ended Boucher's string of five consecutive shutouts. He went 332 minutes, 1 second - 5 1/2 hours - without allowing a goal. Both are modern-day NHL records.

"I'm sure there are 60 goalies around the league tipping their hat to him because it's very impressive," Atlanta goalie Byron Dafoe said. "I don't think that's going to be broken definitely in my lifetime."

Dafoe made 40 saves as the Coyotes outshot the Thrashers 41-21.

"We threw everything at Byron Dafoe tonight and he was terrific," Boucher said. "We should have come out with two points, and he was the only reason we didn't."

Atlanta had lost six in a row and was concluding a four-game road trip.

"We played (Saturday) so the guys were a little weary in the third period," coach Bob Hartley said, "and we did a good job just holding on at least for one point."

The old records of 309:21 and four consecutive shutouts were set by Montreal's Bill Durnan in 1949.

"That's a huge accomplishment in any sport," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "It ranks up there with some amazing streaks."

Boucher was relieved, not disappointed.

"I was prepared for it to end," he said. "I knew it was going to end at some point. It was kind of a flukey goal, but no big deal. I told myself that when it does happen, just stop the next one."

The deflection left no time for Boucher to make the save.

"I don't think it would have hit the net if it didn't hit me," Tanabe said. "If it wasn't for that bounce, he could have had another shutout."

Phoenix coach Bob Francis thought it was a fitting end to the streak.

"He was in such a zone right now, you knew it was going to be a broken play," Francis said.

Daymond Langkow intercepted Garnet Exelby's clearing pass and scored an unassisted goal to tie it 1-1 at 6:21 of the third period as Atlanta's winless streak reached seven games and Phoenix's unbeaten string was extended to six.

Boucher had 20 saves, including two incredible stops of shots by Ilya Kovalchuk, a left-handed stab in the third period, and a sprawling, diving block of a point-blank shot at 2:19 of overtime.

Boucher, usually the backup to Sean Burke, began with a 4-0 home victory over Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, then followed with road victories over Dallas (6-0), Carolina (3-0), Washington (3-0) and Minnesota.

NHL officials didn't figure out who should get Atlanta's goal until the start of the third period, initially saying Robitaille's shot glanced off the stick of Atlanta's Randy Petrovicky.

The Coyotes were short-handed after Fredrik Sjorstrom was called for goalie interference 52 seconds before the goal.

After the score, the sold-out crowd at the Coyotes' new Glendale Arena stood and cheered Boucher's record feat. Play stopped and Phoenix's bench emptied, as the players congratulated the goalie while the big screen showed highlights of the streak.

"It's kind of different to come out on the ice after they score," Doan said. "But obviously it's exciting and it's something you'll never, ever experience again."

Boucher had slipped to third on the Coyotes' goaltending depth chart and could've been claimed by waivers by any other NHL team earlier this season. Before backup former Augusta Lynx goaltender Zac Bierk hurt his groin in November, Boucher wasn't even practicing with the team.