I struggle to find another way to describe this game. The Phoenix Coyotes not only managed to blow leads of 2-1 and 4-3, but they conceded two goals in the final two minutes of the game, turning what should have been a regulation win into a regulation loss. Instead of two points, or even one point, the Coyotes will leave Calgary with zero.
The Coyotes just did not put together a complete effort tonight, which is disappointing because their defensive lapses overshadowed some truly spectacular offensive plays. Matthew Lombardi and Raffi Torres both looked excellent tonight; Lombardi is already adding another dimension of speed to the lineup which is forcing the opposing defense to cover more ice or get burned. The 4th line was also good when it played, including Paul Bissonnette who is now riding a two game points streak (think you'd ever see those words strung together?)
But for all the good things the offense did, the defense was just terrible. Michael Stone and Chris Summers both didn't look up to the task of playing seasoned NHL veterans, there were tons of missed assignments from normally stout two-way forwards, and Mike Smith looked very average tonight.
The Calgary Flames deserve a lot of credit; they wanted to win this game down the stretch and they absolutely took it. Dave Tippett cannot be pleased with his team's inability to close out two games in a row.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Raffi Torres. Torres lit the lamp twice on two beautifully executed plays by Matthew Lombardi and Zbynek Michalek, respectively. These flashes of brilliance are hopefully a sign of good things to come from the offense.
2nd Star - Curtis Glencross. Glencross scored the game winning goal in clutch fashion, taking advantage of some spectacularly awful defensive play to blow a high point shot past Mike Smith.
1st Star - Jarome Iginla. Calgary's answer to Shane Doan did all the little things right; he fought down low in the crease, played all around physical hockey, and scored two goals.
Five For Winning
1. Purge the Bad Energy. A bad loss can really stick with a team, especially one that seemed well in hand. The Coyotes will need to come out strong to begin this game so that they can get their swagger back. The upside is that they probably forgot the loss against Edmonton. The bad news is that they replaced it with an even worse one.
2. Follow the Game Plan. The Coyotes did nearly everything right the last time they played Calgary, and the two teams haven't changed a whole lot since then. If they can replicate the success they had the first time around, they will make their job much easier. The Coyotes scored the same amount of goals in this one as they did in their previous meeting. Unfortunately the defense was just awful.
3. Power Play. Even by Phoenix standards, yesterday's power play was pitiful, although Matthew Lombardi did score a goal with the man advantage. They don't necessarily have to score to make the power play work; they just need to wear down the opposing team's defense and keep the puck 200 feet away from their own goaltender. The Coyotes notched the lone power play goal in this game, but it went in off of Jay Bouwmeester's skate. They also failed to convert on a 1:43 5-on-3 advantage and looked out of sorts for most of their power play time.
4. Road Cooking. Calgary has not played particularly well at home; they have yet to win two home games in a row. The Coyotes would like to make sure that trend continues. They let the Flames get the first tally early, and they didn't shut the door at the end of the 2nd or 3rd period. Calgary's home slump is over.
5. Two Points. While there is no such thing as an easy game in the NHL, I don't think it's all that controversial to say that Vancouver is a better team than Calgary. With the Canucks next on the schedule the Coyotes will want to pick up two points here. Yet another game the Coyotes should have come away with points from. This one is particularly hard to stomach.
The Coyotes will have some serious soul-searching to do as they head into a Tuesday night game against the Northwest Division leading Vancouver Canucks. Hopefully they can find it within them to salvage the last game of this roadtrip.