On the heels of yet another listless performance the Phoenix Coyotes are now riding their first 3-game losing streak in 129 games. With a 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks the team's current slump has gone from blip on the radar to legitimate concern. The Coyotes continued their worrisome trend of losing games in which they fall behind 1-0, displaying none of the tenacity and come-from-behind spirit that has defined the Tippett regime. Gory details after the jump...
Phoenix's NHL-worst power play was another point of contention heading into tonight's action, with the Desert Dogs scoring on just 10.9% of their PP chances, and a nifty 2nd period goal by Martin Hanzal suggested that the storm had mercifully passed. Unfortunately, this man advantage would be the first of only three for the Coyotes and their passive play again produced a minimal amount of mistakes by the opposition.
Kyle Turris was a healthy scratch for the first time since his return from a prolonged holdout, and the line through his name dashed any hope of the Coyotes getting their disgruntled center back on track. With a spot in the lineup opened by Turris' turn on the bench, Dave Tippet turned to enforcer Paul Bissonnette to provide a spark. That spark was quickly snuffed out, however, when Biz Nasty registered a disappointing 0 SOG, 1 Hit performance in his 9:43 of ice time. On a night when the 'Yotes desperately needed to be picked up by Biz Nasty's blend of intensity and physicality, Bissonnette's no-show was inexplicable.
The battle between the pipes was won decisively by Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller, who turned away 19 of the 20 shots on net that Phoenix mustered. Goalie Mike Smith was shaky once again, allowing 4 goals on 28 shots in his third consecutive loss while receiving the bare minimum in defensive assistance. Smith was hung out to dry on the Ducks' first goal of the game, when the newly-acquired Pelley broke free from Adrian Aucoin along the board and blasted one home. This breakdown by Aucoin came in addition to his two penalties in the 1st period, the latter of which produced the Ducks' second goal of the game, a power play goal by Niklas Hagman just 1:07 into the 2nd stanza.
Hagman would provide the dagger with 1:04 remaining in the 2nd period, scoring on the backhand after a sensational pass from last year's scoring champ Corey Perry. After the Coyotes had closed the gap on Hanzal's PP goal, making it 2-1 at the time, Hagman dashed their hopes with a goal in the last two minutes of the period. With a half-empty Honda Center quiet in anticipation of another blown Anaheim lead, Hagman's crushing score energized the home crowd and demoralized the Coyotes in one fell swoop.
With another late goal leaving the Coyotes grasping for straws, the 3rd period was merely a formality and Kyle Palmieri sealed the deal just 3:30 into the final stanza. His first goal of the season put Anaheim up 4-1 and pushed Phoenix to their 3rd straight defeat and 5th in their last 7 games. As the man once said, there's no rest for the weary and a reeling Coyotes team will have to find a way to rebound tomorrow night against the upstart Edmonton Oilers. Back-to-back losses during the Dave Tippet era have been rare, and tonight marked the first time in 129 games that the 'Yotes lost 3 in a row, so it stands to reason that this team will turn the page without a second thought.