Having a solid period is nice. Winning a game here or there is nice. It's not what it takes to make the playoffs.
Until the Phoenix Coyotes learn to play a full-60 minute game and subsequently string some wins together, they will continue to remain in the quagmire of mediocrity that sits just outside the top-eight in the Western Conference.
Phoenix played a mistake-filled game that resembled the Buffalo game last week. They committed bad line change after bad line change until they eventually got caught. Their penchant for penalties continued. And worst of all, the Coyotes spoiled a solid performance from their goaltender in a game they needed to win.
"I didn't think we had enough players play well enough to win the game, it's as simple as that," coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes could not take that much-needed next step they talked about after Saturday's win on Tuesday against a team nipping at their heels, the Dallas Stars.
"It all comes down to how you play. The Pittsburgh game that we played -- pretty solid and did good things with the puck and won enough one-on-one battles and stayed competitive in the game. Tonight was the exact opposite," Tippett said. "(We) turned over a lot of pucks and in the one-on-one battles just didn't do enough to give ourselves a better chance to win."
Fans and players can complain all they want about poor officiating, there were some bad calls, but the fact remains, Dallas capitalized on its opportunities, Phoenix didn't.
"They played well, they beat us. They played better than us. We made just a couple mistakes and those couple mistakes cost us," captain Shane Doan said.
Dallas converted on a power play, took advantage of a poor line change and found the back of the empty net for its three goals. All three were the manifestations of Coyote mistakes.
"It's a game where you know it's going to be a tight game, every play is critical, whether it's a penalty or right before they scored the first goal we had the puck on our stick and all we had to do was get it down the ice, we don't get it down and it ends up in the back of our net," Tippett said.
Tippett added that his team did not lack urgency, but lacked execution.
A quick glance at the league scoreboard revealed another Vancouver Canucks loss, their fifth in a row, opening the door for the Coyotes to climb into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix slammed it shut with its play in the final 40 minutes of Tuesday's game.
"(We) lost too many puck battles and made too many mistakes with the puck and didn't give ourselves a chance," Tippett said.
Antoine Vermette was the lone goal-scorer for the Coyotes, scoring with a forehand-to-backhand move on the breakaway to extend his point-streak to eight games. Mike Smith made 37 saves on 39 shots in one of his best performances of the season.
The night began so promising. Many of the teams surrounding Phoenix in the standings were losing and its own game featured a handful of homecomings.
Mike Ribeiro played his first game against the Stars since being traded to the Washington Capitals in June 2012 in exchange for Cody Eakin and a second round pick. In six seasons with the Stars, Ribeiro scored 123 goals and 407 points.
Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler returned to Arizona, although it wasn't the first trip back to the Valley for the former-Coyote forwards. Fans in attendance remembered their contributions in Sedona Red, Whitney's in particular as the Coyotes have yet to fill the void left by the departed left-winger.
Plus, whenever these two teams meet, there is the painful reminder for Stars fans that Dallas has not made the playoffs since firing head coach Dave Tippett after the 2008-09 season. The Coyotes have made the playoffs three times in the four seasons since hiring Tippett.
However, the Stars got the best of their old head coach and netminder and pulled within one point of the Coyotes in the standings. Phoenix remains one point out of a playoff spot with a couple games in hand on Vancouver.
- Dallas' perspective
- Advanced game stats
- The Coyotes were 0-for-2 with the man advantage and were as good as they were successful, not very.
- Vermette's goal was his 21st of the season, tied for the third most in a season in his career.
- Ribeiro was the only Coyotes center to lose more faceoffs than he won.
- Jeff Halpern also played for the Stars for two seasons.
- Attendance: 12,257
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Kari Lehtonen - Stopped 27-of-28 shots en route to his 21st victory of the season.
2. Mike Smith - 37 saves and a .949 save percentage. The best Coyote on the ice.
3. Antoine Roussel - Game-winning goal.
The Coyotes take the ice on Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. and it will be the final home game before the Olympic break.