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Winnipeg Jets vs. Phoenix Coyotes recap: so close, but hit the post

The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in a shootout on Tuesday night.

Christian Petersen

A bounce one way or an inch another way and the Phoenix Coyotes may have walked out of Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets with two points and a win instead of one point in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Phoenix controlled play for much of the game but found itself at the mercy of a goalie's best friend, the post, on more than one occasion. Mikkel Boedker clanged one off the left iron late in the third period and Antoine Vermette smacked the right one in the final round of the shootout.

The Coyotes were also victimized by unfortunate bounces.

Phoenix's only goal allowed came in the aftermath of a puck hitting an official deep in its own zone and the only shootout goal allowed came after the puck bounced off the left leg of goaltender Thomas Greiss.

"It's a game of inches," coach Dave Tippett said. "There's an extra point there you'd certainly like to have, but it wasn't for lack of trying. It was a fast, hard, tight hockey game. They got a couple bounces and we didn't. The first goal they got goes off the referee and ends up in the back of the net and their shootout goal hits the post, hits the back of Greiss and goes in and ours hits the post and goes out. Sometimes as good as you want to be, the game doesn't let you be as good."

While the margin for error in Tuesday's game was slim, the margin for error for the Coyotes to make the playoffs became even slimmer.

Dallas won its third game in a row and leapfrogged the Coyotes in the process. Each team has 85 points, but the Stars currently own the first four tiebreakers (games played, ROW, season series and goal differential).

"We really can't be worried about them. They're a good team; they're going to win games. We have to do our part and win games. We've got to expect them to win," defenseman Keith Yandle said.

The Coyotes will have another crack at two points Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

While the Coyotes have made a habit out of scoring first, that was not the case Tuesday. The aforementioned bad bounce found its way into the back of Phoenix's net after a Yandle pass hit an official allowing the Jets to gain possession of the puck deep in the offensive zone. Bryan Little retrieved the puck behind the net and threw it out in front to his captain Andrew Ladd who one-timed it over Greiss' glove for his 23rd goal of the season.

"They started getting out really fast." defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "They got the pucks deep they went to the net and they've got some big guys that can skate."

Fortunately for the Coyotes, they broke their routine of having lackluster second periods.

The middle frame was indeed a strong one for the Coyotes as they controlled the puck, outshooting Winnipeg 14-6, and tied up the score.

Michalek scored his second goal of the season 19 seconds into the period. The 31-year-old finished off a play that started with a 2-on-1 rush by Boedker who passed the puck cross-ice to Vermette between three Jets. Vermette found a trailing Michalek who smacked the puck into the Jets' net vacated by an out of position Ondrej Pavelec.

"We played a hard game," Tippett said. "The first period, I thought the first seven minutes was like a track meet, it just kept going back and forth, but the second period I thought we came out and pushed. That goal gave us some momentum, we pushed hard. It would have been nice to capitalize on a couple more chances, but it's a tight game."

It was a tight game throughout, including a third period in which both teams mustered six shots each. Phoenix briefly believed they had taken the lead late in the third, but the whistle had already blown and the play, by rule, was unreviewable.

Phoenix had an opportunity to put the game away in overtime with an abbreviated 4-on-3 power play. The Coyotes looked disorganized and, at times, had trouble just getting into the zone. The power play was unsuccessful for the second time on the evening.

For the 12th time this season, Phoenix's fate was decided in the shootout. The Coyotes were unable to score in the shootout, including Vermette's heartbreaking miss off the post, while Ladd scored the shootout's only goal after the puck ricocheted off Greiss' leg and into the net.

"We played at home. We played against a team that is below us in the standings. You would love to have the two points but, like I said, it was a tight game, both teams played hard," Michalek said. "In a shootout it's pretty much about luck. We didn't get the point and we've got to move on. We got the point and another tough game tomorrow so you've got to move on and we'll see."

The Coyotes will go back to Greiss in LA for the second game of a back-to-back, one night after he stopped 21-of-22 shots, in lieu of starting rookie Mark Visentin in his NHL debut.

"[Greiss] has had lots of rest this year, he'll be fine," Tippett said.

Paw Prints

  • Winnipeg's perspective - Arctic Ice Hockey
  • Advanced game stats
  • Derek Morris returned to the lineup after sitting four games and Tippett liked what he saw in the defenseman's return.
  • Phoenix's top three centers did not have a faceoff percentage lower than 64 percent.
  • The Coyotes have scored 75 second period goals this season.
  • Dustin Byfuglien played a lot of the third period and OT as a forward, reliving his days in Chicago.
  • Attendance: 13,724

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Andrew Ladd - The only Jet to solve Greiss, with a goal in regulation and the shootout. 

2. Ondrej Pavelec - Stopped 28-of-29 shots for his 21st victory of the season.

3. Thomas Greiss - Solid in defeat with 21 saves.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes head off to LA to face the rival Kings on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.