The Arizona Coyotes didn't play a bad game on Saturday. They didn't play a good game either. Another mediocre performance at home left a bad taste in everyone's mouth after Thanksgiving as the Yotes were beaten 3-0.
The game got off to a rocky start, with Mikkel Boedker taking a four-minute high sticking double minor in the opening minute. Arizona killed the penalty, but the early hole sapped the Coyotes' energy. The Coyotes needed a bounce-back performance after a demoralizing loss against Colorado, but only getting three shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes was no way to go about doing it. The good news about the dreadful first period was the fact that the defense at least kept the Calgary Flames off the board. Even though they played another awful period, Arizona was still tied 0-0.
Early in the second stanza, the score line finally changed. Another bad Arizona turnover and poor positioning allowed Calgary to come down the ice on a two on one. Jiri Hudler held the puck and made a pretty pass beyond a prone Keith Yandle over to T.J. Brodie. The Flames D-man unleashed a wicked one-timer past the shoulder of Devan Dubnyk into the net at 4:34 of the period.
After the goal, the Coyotes regrouped and started to generate play back into the Calgary end. They had chances, but were kept to the outside and had difficulty getting quality looks. Karri Ramo had a nice glove save on a long snap shot from Martin Erat. The Coyotes best chance came from Brandon McMillan late in the period. He got in on the forecheck and came out of the corner with a loose puck and drove to the net, but put a shot right into the flaming "C" on Ramo's chest.
The game went into the third 1-0 Calgary, and much like the second period, the Flames got another early goal off a Coyote mistake. Shane Doan couldn't handle a pass from Yandle and Hudler got the puck to a streaking Johnny Gaudreau. Johnny Hockey gained the blueline and ripped a shot low stick side past Dubnyk to make it 2-0 barely four minutes into the third.
Calgary wasn't done piling on and neither was Hudler. The Flames power play got another crack and a loose puck in the low slot was batted out of the air by No. 24 past Dubnyk for a 3-0 Calgary lead.
The Coyotes gave up a three-goal lead to a flurry of Colorado activity last game, but couldn't replicate any of that offense tonight. Calgary got the lead and held firm while Arizona never seemed to open up the throttle. Not good, not bad, just somewhere in between. The story of the Coyotes' season and the entire team at this point in 2014.
- For the Calgary perspective, visit Matchsticks and Gasoline.
- The final shot total was 29-26 in favor of Calgary but that is misleading. Arizona only really had three scoring chances as almost all there shots came from the boards or the blueline and they generated zero second chance opportunities.
- Arizona won 32 of 50 face-offs (64%). That's good, but the fact that they can't make anything happen with that level of immediate puck control is extremely concerning. Martin Hanzal won eight of ten and Antoine Vermette won 12 of 18.
- Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman led the Flames in time on ice, not Mark Giordano or Brodie. And they won 3-0. Giordano and Brodie combined for a goal and an assist and were both a +2.
- Brendan Shinnimin made his NHL debut for the Coyotes. He played 13:11 and won three of four face-offs. He was positionally sound, but didn't do much offensively. Unlike NHL debutantes Justin Hodgman and Tobias Rieder, he didn't score on his debut, obviously.
- Devan Dubnyk was beat for the first time in regulation in an Arizona sweater. Maybe all the Mike Smith blame will start dying down now.
- The Coyotes only drew one penalty and allowed a power play goal on three chances.
- Arizona hasn't scored a goal in 112:25. They are now winless in their last five games at Gila River Arena (0-3-2).
Our Three Stars of the Game
Jiri Hudler - One goal and two assists and had the puck on his stick seemingly every time he was on the ice.
- Johnny Gaudreau - One goal and one assist on the night. The Coyotes had no answer for the Flames second line all night long. These two dominated the game tonight.
- Karri Ramo - Stopped all 26 shots he faced. All told, a fairly pedestrian shutout performance.
The Coyotes head right back out onto the road, traveling to Alberta for back to back games in Edmonton and against these same Flames in Calgary on Monday and Tuesday.
Someone actually has to win Monday's Oilers/Coyotes game. "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"