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Toronto Maple Leafs vs Phoenix Coyotes recap: missed opportunities

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The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 on Monday.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Coyotes know their flaws. They've been the same all year. Defensive breakdowns, missed offensive opportunities and poor penalty killing.

On Monday night, those flaws reared their ugly head against the Toronto Maple Leafs and ended the Coyotes' winning streak at two with a 4-2 defeat.

"There's little things that have come back to haunt us off and on all year, and  those continue to be areas of concern and areas we have to improve in," coach Dave Tippett said.

They also ran into a hot goalie who stopped all 29 Coyotes even-strength shots and 39-of-41 shots overall, Jonathan Bernier.

"We had opportunities to score and we didn't," captain Shane Doan said. "Bernier played well for them and we had opportunities that we didn't bury and that's the difference in the game."

Phoenix's relapse to the mistake-prone, missed-opportunity style of play was a bit surprising after putting together a pair of solid wins to begin its three-game homestand.

"I don't think it was a step back," Doan said. "We did a lot of things right and obviously some things we have to be better at -- penalty killing obviously."

Despite their inability to convert, the Coyotes controlled the puck quite well. They outshot the Leafs 41-29 and had a Corsi for percentage of 60.9 percent. However, failure to score on early opportunities robbed the Coyotes of a chance to take a quick lead, something that helped them win their last two games.

The Coyotes couldn't capitalize on a strong start to the game that saw them accumulate 10 shots in the first 10 minutes. Phoenix's fruitless efforts came back to haunt them in the waning minutes of the first period. This theme continued throughout the game.

Jake Gardiner and Phil Kessel scored a pair of goals giving Toronto a two goal lead heading into the first intermission. Kessel's power play goal came with Zbynek Michalek in the box for delay of game. This too became a theme.

Phoenix's 5-on-5 results weren't any better.

Keith Yandle and Michael Stone struggled to keep the crease clear and the puck out of the net. The pair was victimized twice, the second time by Carl Gunnarsson who put home a rebound in the crease to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead with neither Coyotes defenseman in sight.

All three goals were the result of defensive breakdowns in front of Mike Smith. As a result, Toronto went to work in the Coyotes' crease and took control of the game.

Tippett attributed his team's defensive struggles to, "some turnovers, some mistakes and just failure to execute."

Phoenix stopped the bleeding with a power play goal from Mike Ribeiro off a Yandle shot-pass. It marked the eighth consecutive game the Coyotes scored a power play goal.

"Unfortunately, we didn't get one until it was too late," Doan said.

Toronto struck again with Michalek in the box, this time in the third period, to put the game out of reach.

A plethora of third period penalties kept Phoenix on the defensive and without the puck.

"It seemed like in that third period, when we did get going, every time we get some momentum, we take a penalty," Tippett said.

The Coyotes struggled to keep their heads above water on the PK, while trying to climb back into the game.

"You try to push the game and your chasing the game, so sometimes you put yourself in a little more risky position and try to make things happen," Antoine Vermette said.

Vermette made things happen with the team's first short-handed goal of the season. Even that couldn't will the Coyotes to victory.

"It's disappointing, it felt like we had a lot of great scoring chances," Vermette said.

Playing without center Martin Hanzal, who missed the game with a lower-body injury, didn't help.

The Coyotes head out on the road for a tour through western Canada beginning on Wednesday. A tough intra-division schedule, albeit against teams the Yotes have had success against.

"It is challenging, but we know we can win on the road," Vermette said. "(Tonight's loss) is behind us. You got to learn from the bad bounces and all the things we've got to be better (at), but you got to build your game and keep moving forward."

*Toronto's perspective*

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Jonathan Bernier - Stopped 39-of-41 shots including some amazing saves.

2. Phil Kessel - A goal and an assist.

3.Lauri Korpikoski - A pair of special teams points.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes head to Calgary to play the Flames on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.