The Phoenix Coyotes knew they had a tough test ahead of them when they welcomed the Boston Bruins, arguably the NHL's best team, into Jobing.com Arena Saturday night. Unfortunately, Phoenix was unable to rise to the occasion.
Although the Coyotes put the visiting Bruins on their heels for much of the first forty minutes, small mental mistakes cost the Coyotes against one the premier clubs in the league, as they lost 4-2 to the Boston Bruins in regulation.
The Bruins appeared to take control early in the 1st period, when Patrice Bergeron tapped home a rebound given up by Mike Smith at 3:25. In their past eleven straight victories, Boston rarely trailed in games, so it was safe to say the SRO crowd in Glendale had reason to be concerned.
The Coyotes however put up a heck of a fight. A scramble in front of Tuukka Rask at 11:45 of the first period eventually resulted in a Shane Doan roof shot that evened the score up at 1-1. The Coyotes then drew a penalty on Matt Barkowski with roughly 45 seconds left in the period to start the second with the man advantage.
On the ensuing power play, Oliver Ekman-Larsson embarrassed Loui Eriksson, Johnny Boychuk, and Tuukka Rask by finessing his way through the Bruins' penalty killers and finishing off a rebound to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. They would hold that lead all the way through the second period, though penalties by Michael Stone and Antoine Vermette in the second half of the period tilted the ice in favor of Boston.
The third period was not a terribly played period by the Coyotes, but the mistakes they did make proved to be costly. Jarome Iginla tipped in the tying goal after Zdeno Chara had about twenty feet of open ice to step into his shot at 3:48 of the third. The open ice was largely due to a 4 on 4 situation caused by a penalty by Vermette, which negated a Coyotes power play.
It appeared as though both teams would be satisfied with going to overtime, but Boston once again capitalized on a mistake. Keith Yandle was unable to clear the puck out of the zone, and Shawn Thornton re-directed a sharp angle pass from Daniel Paille at 16:42 to give the Bruins the 3-2 lead. Though the Coyotes would threaten with the empty net, Jarome Iginla would eventually pot his 2nd of the night on an open net at 19:28 to give the Bruins a 4-2 victory.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - OEL had a fantastic game; his goal was one for the highlight reel, he took three shots, and laid seven hits while playing 26:49, more than any player on either team.
2nd Star - Tuukka Rask - The Coyotes managed to outshoot the Bruins in this game, and Tuukka Rask was well up to the task. He made 31 saves on 33 shots.
1st Star - Jarome Iginla - Iginla's deflection tied the game and largely tilted the ice back in favor of Boston in the 3rd. His empty netter also put the Coyotes away for good after a spirited effort in the Boston zone.
From Anthony LeBlanc: President and CEO of the Phoenix Coyotes:
Tonight we have broken the reg season single game franchise revenue record, 4th time this year. Thanks #Coyotes fans! (& our Boston friends)— Anthony LeBlanc (@anthonydleblanc) March 23, 2014
- The Bruins' perspective, courtesy of Stanley Cup of Chowder.
- Although 4 on 4 situations would hurt the Coyotes, Phoenix's penalty kill was a perfect 3 for 3 against a very talented Boston team.
- Not a good day in the faceoff circle for the Coyotes. Jeff Halpern went 3 for 11 (27%) and Mike Ribeiro went 4 for 15 (27%).
- Keith Yandle recorded his forty-second assist of the season on Ekman-Larsson's goal. He is six assists away from his career high.
- There were no changes to the roster; David Schlemko, Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Gormley, and Paul Bissonnette continued to spend time in the press box.