This should have been a lasting image of the Coyotes celebrating Whitney's tying goal; instead it's just a prelude to the heartbreak about to come... (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
To be perfectly honest, the Phoenix Coyotes didn't deserve to win last night's game against Dallas. They played sloppy all night in all zones, creating giveaways that led to great scoring opportunities for the Stars throughout. In fact, at one point early in the third, we were observing that the Coyotes were lucky it was only 1-0 and not 4-0 for all the chances the Stars failed to convert.
Ilya Bryzgalov certainly stood in the way of many of those chances, making some big saves and getting some help from the iron behind him, but the Coyotes simply looked like a team happy to be off the road for much of the affair, a point Coach Tippett noted in his postgame presser.
As for Dallas, they certainly weren't flashy out there, but they were effective at shutting down the Coyotes attack and playing solid defense limiting the Coyotes to some shots from the outside. Their first two goals from Tom Wandell and Jamie Langenbrunner were nothing fancy, just pucks thrown on net that found their way past Bryz and in.
Throughout the third period, the Coyotes attempted to bring some greater offensive pressure and it finally paid off for new guy Rostislav Klesla, cashing in a beautiful feed from Kyle Turris to cut the deficit in half with about three and a half minutes to play. The energized crowd seemed to carry the Coyotes through the next two minutes and with Bryz on the bench, Ray Whitney converted a perfect set up from Shane Doan to tie the score.
However, with 13 seconds remaining, Radim Vrbata took an unfortunate penalty reaching in on Mike Ribeiro as he entered the zone and Brian Pochmara whistled the questionable hooking call. At this point, Keith Yandle almost took a misconduct penalty as he was jawing at Pochmara's partner in crime Brad Watson from the bench. Tippett also got in a few words as Watson threatened Yandle before the play resumed. On the ensuing faceoff, Dallas got control of the puck and Ribeiro threw it in front to Jamie Benn, who blasted a one timer past Bryzgalov with just under five seconds remaining.
Before the ensuing faceoff, Pochmara and Watson showed they were true professionals by giving Morris and Yandle unsportsmanlike penalties after each voiced their displeasure at Pochmara's call in a civilized manner....
Actually, I'm fairly certain that whatever Yandle and Morris said more than earned their penalties, but let me just express how utterly disgusted I was by that Pochmara call against Vrbata. When it first happened and I saw his arm come up, I was in a bit of disbelief. This had been a game with some big hits and a fair bit of obstruction that was going uncalled from both sides. That being said, several of the Coyotes calls seemed to be the phantom hooks and holds that have plagued them recently. The boys have to realize that at this point it seems as if the refs are just looking for Coyotes players to take their second hand off the stick and call them for the hold, even if it isn't really happening.
Getting back to the actual call on Vrbata, it wasn't as bad a call as the one made on Aucoin earlier in the game. And truth be told at any other point in the game, I probably would have been ok with the call (which I'd usually take to mean it's a good call)...however, there was something about the way Ribeiro jerked back and the insignificance of what Vrbata actually did that makes it hard to swallow. That Pochmara would make that call with a mere 13 seconds to go after the way the Coyotes had stormed back over the last 4 minutes was just sickening.
It's still unforgivable to take that penalty however and to then give up the goal before overtime and at least steal one point. It's one of those losses that is going to sting fans for some time (like the Edmonton loss earlier in the year, or the infamous loss to Columbus a few years back with the Rick Nash ridiculous drive to the net with under a minute to play).
For the Coyotes, this recent skid going 0-3-1 after the eight game winning streak breaks all the goodwill and momentum the team looked to be creating for a stretch run. The schedule isn't going to get any easier for the Coyotes as the next three games are against a red-hot Kings team in LA on Thursday and then home games against division leaders Detroit and Vancouver. How they respond in the next week will tell us a lot about whether this team is going to be participating in the so-called "second season" and just how far they might go if they get there.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Rostislav Klesla - coming back from injury and in a new system, the newest Coyote played a solid defensive game, scored a pretty goal and had a few big hits. Once he gets acclimated a bit, he is only going to prove bigger.
2. Jamie Benn - was buzzing around most of the game and blasted that game winner that was simply a dagger for the fans in attendance.
3. Shane Doan - two big assists and lots of energy in the third, particularly after the Coyotes went down 2-0; made a great hit and move to win the puck before setting up the Whitney goal.
3a. Cameron "Superfan" Hughes (@CameronCheers) - for those in attendance, Mr. Hughes was brought in by the Coyotes to provide some random cheering/dancing/t-shirt tossing to fans in attendance and just generally bring the energy up in the arena. He did a fantastic job and was keeping the decently large crowd (15,751!) enthused until the team finally got back into things late in the game. He even agreed (via Twitter) that it was a crappy call to end the game...'nuff said.
COMMENTS OF THE NIGHT
-KholdStare88, 9:33 PM
Screw it, back at it Thursday night against the Kings...big game, need a win. Let's see if the Coyotes can channel the frustration from tonight into a big effort at the Staples Center.