First game of the Phoenix Coyotes season is in the books which is a wonderful way to cure the disappointment of a premature end to the Phillies (and D-backs) seasons. Of course, it would have been a bit more wonderful if the Coyotes had decided to play as well in the first and second periods as they did in the third when the game was already largely out of reach. This wasn't a game that a lot of Coyotes fans are going to remember fondly, although there were some positive takeaways in the 6-3 loss on opening night in San Jose.
Let's just get the bad out of the way. The Coyotes were largely out matched in the puck control department as they surrendered 52 shots on goal, an almost ridiculous total. Mike Smith, who came in with the weight of Ilya Bryzgalov's superb three-year stint in Phoenix on his shoulders, simply was peppered into submission for much of the game. The Coyotes were out-shot 19-4 in the first period, and 38-18 after two. While there were a few poor goals (the second Desjardins tally and the Handzus deflection shot), more often there were defensive lapses that left Smith out to dry.
Now, the defense certainly struggled, especially after Michal Rozsival took a puck to the face early in the first and did not return. Five penalties by the veteran defensive players (2 for Morris, and one each for Aucoin, Klesla and Yandle) were especially hard on the penalty kill, that ended the game only 3 for 6. Remarkably, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the only defenseman who played the whole game and didn't take a penalty - in fact, OEL played a pretty solid game although there is still plenty for him to work on (allowing Joe Thornton to park in front of Smith on the fifth Sharks goal really hurt).
On to some positives - the Coyotes scored three times on the power play, including a 5-on-3 tally. The Coyotes power play has been dismal as long as I can remember, so it was nice to see that unit find the back of the net several times. Shane Doan continues to be a beast with a pair of goals, six shots, seven hits and just general bad-assery. OEL was the other Coyotes goal scorer and Keith Yandle added a pair of assists. Mike Smith was much maligned through the first 40 minutes, but he was solid in the third turning aside 15 shots, some of the dramatic fashion.
It was a pretty hard game to watch, but hopefully there was something for the Coyotes to build on in that third when they continue this three-game road trip to open the season in Dallas on Monday. More notes from the game after the jump.
Bullet Point Notes From the Game:
- The change from Dave Strader to Matt McConnell will take some getting used to, but I think it will be a good pick-up for the team. I will reiterate that I'm happy for Strader and like to hear him on the national broadcast, but will enjoy maybe a bit more homer doing the calls.
- Thomas Greiss getting the start for the Sharks due to injuries to Niemi and Nyttimaaki; Mike Smith in net for the Coyotes and we are off.
- First good opportunity goes to San Jose as they move it out from the side boards and Smith slams the 5 hole closed.
- Coyotes take the first penalty as Taylor Pyatt goes for a 2 minute high stick.
- Sharks don't waste a lot of time on the power play as Joe Pavelski takes a feed from Patrick Marleau behind the net that goes through Derek Morris and Smith has no chance. 1-0 Sharks.
- DMo is now going to the box for holding although it seems like an iffy call. PK gets a chance to redeem itself.
- Michal Rozsival gets a puck to the face after it is deflected by Martin Hanzal...lots of blood on the ice and he needs to go get stitched up.
- Great shorthanded opportunity as Boyd Gordon shot up the end boards and fed Kyle Chipchurra driving the net for a good opportunity that Greiss stops.
- Good PK that time, but right after the penalty ends the Sharks score a cheap one on the behind the net stuff play by Michal Handzus. That's an unfortunate play. 2-0 Sharks.
- Coyotes cannot sustain any offensive pressure just now. Seems like the entire game is being played in the defensive end.
- Keith Yandle makes a nice fake slap pass to Mikkel Boedker in the slot who fires a shot that Greiss deflects into the netting. Might be the best shot of the last ten minutes for the Coyotes.
- 20 minutes in the book and there was a bit more energy from the 'Yotes in the last few minutes so that's something hopefully to build on in the 2nd and 3rd. Shots are 19-4 for the Sharks in the first, so they need to pick that up.
- Coyotes have better life out of the intermission. Shane Doan with a big shot that Greiss turns aside.
- Logan Couture takes a lazy penalty for the Sharks and the Coyotes get their first power play opportunity.
- No goal on the power play, but the Coyotes look pretty good out there and have good pressure. Daymond Langkow on the power play and pressure in front of the net has them creating more opportunities than we sometimes see on a Coyotes PP.
- DMo back to the box on a boarding call. This is not a good game to start the season for Morris.
- Ryan Clowe scores on a backhand shot on the powerplay. Based on Smith's reaction, it might have run up a defenseman's stick and gone up and over his shoulder. 3-0 Sharks.
- Bad turnover by Lauri Korpikoski leads to a mini-breakaway for Andrew Desjardins and Smith can't make the play. 4-0 Sharks.
- Marleau takes a penalty and the Coyotes go back on the power play trying to turn this around a little bit.
- 5-on-3 advantage as Douglas Murrary takes a holding call. Coyotes can't control first face-off though and they clear it.
- Shane Doan scores on the 5-on-4 after they kill the first and Doaner buries a one-timer off a nice feed from Radim Vrbata. Coyotes get on the boad. 4-1 Sharks.
- Rostislav Klesla takes a holding penalty and the Coyotes have a huge PK here.
- Blast from the point by Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton is right in Smith's face so the Pavelski deflection goes unnoticed and it's another Sharks PP goal. 5-1 Sharks.
- A completely inexcusable goal allowed by Smith not squeezing the post and Desjardins has his second of the game. 6-1 Sharks.
- Through two periods, the Sharks have outshot Phoenix 38-18. 38 shots would be unacceptable through an entire game, but through two periods it is ridiculous. If Tippett were a screaming type of coach, then I'd hate to be in the locker room for this intermission.
- Coyotes are mixing up the lines to start the third to try and find some type of momentum before the next game.
- Joe Thornton to the box for holding the stick and the Coyotes are back on the power play.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson with a blast from the point on the power play gets the Coyotes back on the board. 6-2 Sharks.
- Coyotes going back on the powerplay as Tommy Wingels gets an interference call. With 1:20 left, Desjardins takes a penalty as well, so extended 5-on-3.
- Shane Doan blasts another one on the 2-man advantage with Hanzal in Greiss' face. 6-3 Sharks.
- Coyotes can't convert on the 5-on-4 after the Doan goal, but the Coyotes are buzzing here in the third and showing some signs of serious life.
- Sharks go back on the power play after Adrian Aucoin takes a hooking call.
- Smith robs Marleau on a rebound effort to keep any chance of the Coyotes coming back intact.
- Coyotes are able to kill off the penalty; both teams are now 3 for 6 on the power play tonight...the Sharks just have won the battle at even strength. This is the antithesis of the way the Coyotes have played recently.
- Clowe with a real dirty hit boarding Daymond Langkow with a good elbow to the back driving Langkow's head into the glass. Aucoin and Doan comes to the defense of the players and there's a lot of bad blood between everyone. Clowe gets 2 and 2, Doan gets 2, Coyotes on the power play.
- Coyotes can't convert and Keith Yandle (who has had a very solid game) saves an empty netter by taking a tripping penalty.
Our Three Stars
1. Joe Pavelski - scored the two most important goals of the game (the first, and the first after the Coyotes finally got on the board).
2. Shane Doan - was everywhere on the ice, scoring a pair of goals (his 38th two-goal game, still no hattie).
3. Andrew Desjardins - the final two goal scorer of the game will get my third star, his takeaway from Korpikoski and mini-breakaway goal was really quite pretty.
Comment of the Night
Well they kept playing for more than 10 seconds so the bar may have been a little low there :P
-Travis Hair (on the second PK looking better than the first...ouch!)
Coyotes continue the road trip in Dallas on Monday against a Stars team that opened with a win and loss in the home-and-home with Chicago. Of course, the Stars won the home game of that series...