USA TODAY Sports
The Phoenix Coyotes could not get back to their winning ways as they fell to the St. Louis Blues, at home, 6-3. The Coyotes are yet to win a Thursday game this season.
Poor mental mistakes and blown coverages doomed the Yotes on this night. The combination of defensemen puck-watching, forwards not back-checking and general ineffectiveness by Mike Smith, plagued the Coyotes throughout the night.
"That wasn't our team right there," Coyotes head Coach Dave Tippett said, "[We] didn't execute with the puck, [and] didn't defend real well."
Despite some early troubles, the Coyotes found themselves with a 2-1 lead early in the second period. Unfortunately for the Yotes, it was all downhill from there as they were outscored 5-1 the rest of the game. "You got to find a way to be a lot tighter defensively, especially when you're up a goal," Coyotes forward David Moss said.
For the fifth game in a row, the Coyotes allowed the first goal of the game. Chris Stewart scored his ninth goal of the season to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. With just over a minute remaining in the period, and on the penalty kill, Boyd Gordon created a turnover and passed the puck up the middle of the ice to Moss. With Alex Pietrangelo trailing him, Moss scored a breakaway, short-handed goal when his shot snuck under Jake Allen and into the net.
Captain Coyote, Shane Doan opened the second period scoring 41 seconds in. Doan one-timed a St. Louis turnover past Allen for the go-ahead goal. Five minutes later, Patrik Berglund tied the game at two shooting a rebound past a cluster of the players in front of the net and Smith. The Blues' top line scored once again as Berglund scored his second goal of the night to give St. Louis the lead once again. The Blues continued to pile on as they opened up a two-goal lead after Scott Nichol scored his first goal of the season. Nichol was left open as Zbynek Michalek was caught on the wrong side of the net after Kyle Chipchura had his pocket picked.
St. Louis continued their dominance as they scored their yet another goal. A poor play by Michalek combined with Rusty Klesla not picking up his man, while puck-watching, lead to the goal. Vladimir Sobotka scored that goal and gave the Blues a 5-2 lead. Pietrangelo put home yet another Smith rebound as no Coyotes was to be found near the crease. While the defensemen had poor games, the forwards could not back-check in time to pick up the third man in the offensive zone. Keith Yandle scored a late power-play goal but it was way too little, way too late.
- The Coyotes have played five Thursday games and have lost all five in regulation. While this is clearly a statistical anomaly (for now), it is an interesting to note to ponder.
- Ekman-Larsson was an uncharacteristic -4 on the night.
- Moss' goal was the first short-handed goal by a Coyote this season.
- Berglund's two second period goals were 2:12 apart.
- Over the last two seasons, opponents have scored 75 third period goals against Phoenix.
- Interesting fact - Mike Smith in 2013:
vs. Central Division: (1-4-0) 5.03 GAA/.824 SV%
vs. Everyone else: (8-3-2) 2.36 GAA/.919 SV%
Five For Winning
1. Score First. The second half of a back-to-back has always tended to be a challenge for the Coyotes. Their job will be made significantly easier if they can score first and settle into their defensive style of play. The Coyotes could not score first as Chris Stewart put one home just over 13 minutes into the game. However, they did not go into the intermission down after Moss scored a short-handed goal.
2. Control the Puck. Similarly to the first point, the Coyotes do not want to expend a whole lot of energy chasing the puck and landing punishing hits. If they can keep the pace of the game slow and keep possession for long periods of time, hopefully they will have more energy as the game goes on. Phoenix played from behind for the majority of the game and seemed very inconsistent with the puck. There were opportunities for break-ways and lead passes that were made and others that were not.
3. Steal One. Mike Smith got shellacked for 8 goals in two games against the Ducks, and hasn't really stolen a game since that 1-0 shootout win in San Jose. Thankfully Smitty got two days rest by sitting the final Anaheim game out. The Coyotes could use a bounce back performance from #41. While the defense in front of him made Swiss cheese look impermeable, Smith did himself no favors as he gave up several big rebounds that led to goals.
4. Special Teams. I'm sure this sounds like a broken record by now, but the Coyotes power play has got to produce something. While it doesn't necessarily have to be goals, the Coyotes do have to at least threaten the net and get a few shots. Yesterday's power play efforts were too cute; simplify the passing and take plenty of shots. Phoenix went 1-5 on the power play but their only PP goal could not have been more useless.
5. Call in the Reserves. There are a few guys who may make an appearance in the lineup. If Paul Bissonnette and David Rundblad see ice-time, they will need to provide a bit of a spark to help some of the other Coyotes overcome their tired legs. Bissonnette played 6:41 and had a couple solid shifts but did not make any plays of note. David Rundblad was a healthy scratch once again.
Our Three Stars Of The Game
1. Chris Stewart: A goal, three assists with a point in every period.
2. David Perron: Three assists and great passing throughout the night along with a game-high five hits.
3. Patrik Berglund: Two goals including what turned out to be the tying goal.
The Coyotes will play the fourth and final regular season game against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Phoenix is 1-1-1 against the Stars this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.