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Phoenix Coyotes @ Colorado Avalanche recap: frustrating with a capital "F"

After a tough loss north of the border, the Coyotes had to go right back to work a night later to find a way to get a victory. Unfortunately, some bad bounces and an odd penalty sequence stymied their efforts.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Frustrating: adjective, causing feelings of anger and annoyance.

A more apt description of tonight's game in Denver I can't possibly imagine. The Coyotes outshot, outchanced, and generally outplayed the Colorado Avalanche throughout the night. They even scored the first goal of the contest, which usually leads to victories in today's NHL. But for the second straight game, the Coyotes couldn't close out their advantage and let another golden chance at two points slip away. Unlike last night, the Coyotes couldn't even salvage a point in the Mile High City and they head home further behind the pack in the chase for the wild card spots in the Western Conference.

The game opened with the Avalanche applying all the pressure against a Coyotes team that had played and traveled within the last 24 hours. The Coyotes weathered the storm after being outshot 4-0 in the opening six minutes of the game and started to apply pressure right back to Colorado. After a bad offensive zone penalty by Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau, the Coyotes power play went to work and continued to produce results.

Mikkel Boedker got some space on the right side of the ice and worked a shot from below the circle. The puck hit the post and ricocheted out into the crease, right onto Shane Doan's stick. The Coyote Captain buried the rebound for his 16th goal of the season, giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead 12:47 into the first period. The Coyotes would follow that goal with a strong shift from Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Brandon McMillan that ended when Mike Ribeiro came on the ice and was called for a hooking penalty. It wouldn't be the last time that Ribeiro took a momentum killing penalty on this night.

The Avs capitalized on the miscue, with Parenteau redeeming himself with a blast from the right point at 15:38 of the first for his 12th of the season, tying the game at one.

After playing back and forth hockey for the rest of the period, the Coyotes began to establish themselves more in the second period, getting quality chance after quality chance. After a bad turnover by Jan Hejda in the Colorado zone, the Coyotes would get a glorious opportunity. Mike Ribeiro's chance would be saved by Semyon Varlamov, and the puck would find it's way to David Schlemko who fired a shot from just above the left circle that Varlamov got enough of to redirect wide of the net. The Coyotes earned a couple more whacks but the puck wouldn't go into the net, either skittering wide or bouncing off an Avalanche defender.

The bad bounces would keep haunting the Coyotes, particularly when Mike Ribeiro became the center of one of the most bizarre penalty sequences in recent memory. The Coyote center was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 14:22 of the second during a TV timeout when the puck went into the netting above the Avalanche net. After Colorado took a penalty a minute into the first Ribeiro penalty, the weirdness really begun.

Martin Hanzal was wiped out just inside the Colorado blueline and the Avalanche led a rush back into the Coyotes end. The Coyotes broke up the rush and Tomas Greiss froze the puck as the refs signaled for a penalty, which was assumed to be on Oliver Ekman-Larsson for his work in breaking up the play. Lo and behold, the penalty was actually on Ribeiro, who was given a 10 minute misconduct for saying something as the play went past him and he said something to the official. It's not often someone earns a penalty from the penalty box, but Ribeiro found a way, which hurt since the Coyotes had a limited power play coming their way.

The frustration would continue early into the third as Nate Guenin received the puck all alone as three Coyotes were focused on Gabriel Landeskog behind the net. Guenin beat Greiss to the glove side for his first goal of the season. The Avalanche continued the pressure to open the period, outshooting the Coyotes 10-1 over the first 6:12, culminating in what became the game winning goal. Radim Vrbata turned the puck over at the blueline and Nathan Mackinnon raced down the left boards, forcing a save from Greiss. Landeskog got to the puck first, and whether through fatigue or frustration, the Coyotes were slow getting back including Vrbata who lost track of his man, Paul Stastny. Landeskog made a great pass and Stastny buried the shot giving the Avs a 3-1 lead.

The Coyotes power play would give them chances to get back into the game, but a frustrating effort from the penalty kill made it all for naught. The teams exchanged man advantage tallies in the final six minutes, with both team captains adding to their ledgers. After a tough fought shootout loss the night before, tonight's defeat was even more crushing, especially since the Coyotes played the better hockey most of the night. A bounce here or a bounce there could have changed the result, but mental breakdowns continue to haunt Phoenix and the frustrating losses are mounting.

Paw Prints

  • The advanced stats courtesy of The Coyotes dominated possession but couldn't get the bounces.
  • The Coyotes outshot the Avs 42-33 and 19-13 in the third, but the 10-1 stretch for Colorado to open the final stanza was the difference maker.
  • The Coyotes scored both goals on the power play, going two for five. Colorado's advantage was better on the night though, scoring on two of their four chances.
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson played 27:50 tonight after playing over 29 minutes on Thursday. He had two assists and tied for the game lead with six shots on goal.
  • Mikkel Boedker also had six shots on goal and rung a shot off the post on a third period power play.
  • Brandon McMillan played a pretty good game, and was the victim of two big (and dangerous) hits from P.A. Parenteau in the first and Mackinnon in the third.
  • The Coyotes had a rough night in the face-off dots, losing 33 of 58 draws. Martin Hanzal was victimized the most, going 10 for 24 (42%) and Antoine Vermette struggled as well, only winning 7 of 17 (41%).
  • Ribeiro didn't come off the bench at all in the third period after his second misconduct penalty. He only played 9:01, doubly rough on a back to back gameday.

Our Three Stars of the Game

  1. Semyon Varlamov. He stopped 40 of 42 shots, and while he looked shaky at times in the opening 40 minutes, he was a wall in the 3rd especially with the multiple Coyote power plays he faced.
  2. Gabriel Landeskog. The Avalanche captain had one goal and two assists, including the primaries on the two early third period goals. His speed and size were problematic for Phoenix all evening.
  3. Shane Doan. The Captain tried to single handedly will the Coyotes to tying the game in the 3rd period but his effort came up short. He scored both Coyotes goals and led all forwards in ice time with 20:07.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes return home to Arena to host the new look St. Louis Blues. New additions Ryan Miller and Steve Ott should make their debut with the Blues in this contest. The game is scheduled for a 6pm Arizona time start and will be on FSAZ+ for television and KMVP 860 AM for radio broadcast.