Coyotes End Road Trip With A 4-3 Shootout Loss in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 27: Lee Stempniak #22 of the Phoenix Coyotes controls the puck after Brian Campbell #51 of the Chicago Blackhawks falls to the ice at the United Center on February 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

 

 

The Phoenix Coyotes displayed the range of behaviors on Sunday evening, both positive and negative, that have marked their season along the way to a 4-3 Shootout loss at the United Center.  The loss was their third in a row after winning eight straight.  However,the team twice came back from two goal deficits, but couldn't stop the Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who scored the first and last goals of the night.  

The Desert Dogs came out strong in the first two and a half minutes of the 1st period only, but couldn't get the puck past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.  The Blackhawks got on the scoreboard first with a weak angle goal by Jonathan Toews at the 2:52 mark of the first.  Towes scored again later in the period after the Coyotes were down 5 on 3 after taking two penalties in succession. 

Adrian Aucoin started the second period off well for the Yotes with a power play goal from the point that seemed to bring life back into the bench.  Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived as Shane Doan took a penalty several minutes later that led to a Marion Hossa power play goal.  The Coyotes responded two minutes later with a power play goal of their own courtesy of a Keith Yandle slap shot.  The goal was Yandle's tenth of the year.  With his assist on Aucoin's earlier goal the Coyotes young defensemen has 54 points on the season.

The third period was muddled with both teams clearly playing conservative most of the time.  The Coyotes appeared to focus on  clogging passing and skating lanes.  In the middle of the period Coyotes sticks seem to be everywhere harassing the Hawks, but none of the harassment led to any prime scoring opportunities.  Chicago had the better of the chances the whole period and out shot the Coyotes twelve to five.  The Coyotes finally were able to sustain some pressure in the last two minutes of the period.  However, it was not enough to get the puck past Crawford.

The overtime period mimicked much of the third period as both teams spent much of the time in the neutral zone and the perimeter of the rink. Not surprisngly no one was able to score and the game was forced into the NHL's skills contest.   In the shootout, Jonathan Toews again came through for his team by scoring on the first attempt for the Hawks.  The shooters for the Coyotes; Scottie Upshall, Radim Vrbata, and Kyle Turris, couldn't get the puck past Corey Crawford. Vrbata came the closest.  While he didn't use his textbook forehand/backhand move, he still had Crawford beat, but lost control of the puck and was unable to lift it above Crawford's left pad.

In the end, the Yotes gave up too many shots on goal, turned the puck over too much, and their penalty kill once again left them down  Yet, they showed again that two goal deficits don't scare this team.  The Dogs scored two power play tallies and the return of Whitney and Aucoin from injury and Scottie Upshall from suspension definitely gave the team a lift. 

Bullet Points:

  • The Coyotes took only three penalties during the game, but all three cost them.  The road penalty kill must improve down the stretch.  74.8% is ridiculously low for any team much less this Yotes one
  • Captain Shane Doan took out another player this evening.  This time it was one of his own.  Doan hurt backup goalie Jason Lababera who was taken to the hospital and released.
  • Ray Whitney's return to lineup was extremely noticeable, especially on the power play.  His passing and puck handling skills have been sorely missed by his club.
  • David Schlemko has looked good since his return to the lineup.  Again on Sunday night he was jumping into the play when it made sense for him to.  Looks like someone really missed being able to put on a sweater.
  • Speaking of looking good since returning to the lineup, Mikkel Boedker is all of a sudden looking like the player people thought he'd be when drafted.  Boeds is doing the dirty work and making plays instead of being reactive and flat footed.  He was rewarded with assists on the Yotes second and third goals of the evening. 
  • While Lee Stempniak may not have gained any points in the game, his play in the offensive zone was reminiscent of his play in late DEcember/early January before he broke out of his scoring slump.
  • Keith Yandle continues to play like a Norris trophy winner in the offensive zone.  However, his play in the neutral and defensive zones still leaves something to be desired at times.  Five giveaways doesn't cut it. 
  • Vernon Fiddler was a turnover machine and his line generated next to nothing all game long.
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