Phoenix Coyotes blow two-goal lead, win anyway

Bruce Bennett

The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Saturday night.

The Phoenix Coyotes employ the slogan "every point matters" to describe the waning days of the regular season in hopes of earning a playoff birth for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Every point matters, every game matters and every opponent matters regardless of record and situation that surrounds that opponent.

The Calgary Flames, playing for the second time in as many nights, presented the perfect opportunity for the Coyotes to fall into a proverbial trap game and under-perform against a Western Conference bottom feeder. A trap Phoenix thought they avoided with a hot start.

Phoenix was flying high with two goals in the first 10 minutes, but in typical 2013-14 Coyotes fashion, they gave away an early two-goal lead after an atrocious second period allowed the Flames to tie the game.

Phoenix gave Calgary three power play opportunities in the middle period, two of which the Flames capitalized on. The Coyotes gave up 18 shots in what might have been the worst period of the season for a Coyotes team with plenty to choose from.

"I think we thought it was going to be an easy game after the first [period]," Mike Smith said.

Alas, the Desert Dogs fell directly into the aforementioned trap and found themselves marred in penalty trouble and stuck in their own end, barely hanging on. But, Calgary got into penalty trouble of their own and let the Coyotes back into the game.

The Flames lived by the power play but eventually died by it, taking six consecutive penalties in the third period.

Phoenix made them pay.

Shane Doan deflected a Keith Yandle point shot past Joni Ortio for his 350th career goal.

"It was big for us just to get the lead because we had so many power plays that you knew you were not going to continue to get that many opportunities and you have to score on one of them," Doan said.

The Coyotes held onto the lead this time around and closed out the Flames for the 3-2 victory.

"Obviously it's nice to get the two points, it's huge right now, but we can't just tip toe around games and expect to win, even against teams that aren't in the playoff hunt," Smith said. "We need to keep pushing games along, make the right plays and wear your heart on your sleeve and just keep the momentum of games."

It feels like a broken record at this point, but the Coyotes are inexplicably unable to find a solution to the nagging problem of blowing leads. Good teams avoid catastrophic periods when they are not playing well, mediocre ones do not.

Smith bailed the Coyotes out with yet another solid outing, keeping his team in the game throughout including making some huge saves in the second period to keep the game tied.

"That was a weird period. I haven't seen one like that in a while," Smith said. "Hopefully we can take something out of that period positively, we didn't do very many things well, but the way we responded in the third, we made them take penalties on us and obviously got the winning goal there from Doaner, which was obviously a huge boost for our club."

Smith stopped 29-of-31 shots for his 25th victory of the season.

Defenseman Chris Summers opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game with his first career NHL goal. The defensive defenseman seized an opportunity to jump up in the play and deflected a Lauri Korpikoski pass into the Calgary net.

"It's just a great moment," Summers said. "Every player dreams of playing in the NHL and every player dreams of scoring a goal in the NHL. I'm not one to score many goals but I'm glad it came when it did."

Summers' goal was quickly followed up by Rob Klinkhammer's 10th of the season into the empty net. The problem for Calgary, the empty net goal was in the first period with their goaltender on the ice as Ortio gave up the puck trying to handle it behind his net.

The Flames tacked on a pair of power play goals by Curtis Glencross and Mikael Backlund before Doan's power play goal ended Calgary's hopes for an upset.

Phoenix escaped with the victory and the much-needed two points to pull the Coyotes even with the Dallas Stars for the final wild card playoff spot with 75 points, but Dallas has two games in hand.

The Coyotes' schedule is not doing them any favors either.

"We have five games in eight days, and travel, few of those nights real, real late, so I mean we're just trying to manage the schedule, catch our breath and also realize the urgency of the situation, so that's what makes the playoff push and playoff hockey fun," coach Dave Tippett said.

Paw Prints

  • Calgary's perspective: Matchsticks and Gasoline
  • Advanced game stats
  • Four of the five goal scored were on tips or deflections.
  • It was Klinkhammer's 100th NHL game.
  • All four Phoenix centers won at least 50 percent of their faceoffs.
  • Attendance: 16,373

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Mike Smith - Solid all game and perfect at even strength.

2. Keith Yandle - Pair off assists including on the game-winner.

3. Mike Cammalleri - Two primary assists.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes head to LA on Monday to take on their biggest rival, the LA Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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