With no room for error, the Phoenix Coyotes did just enough to get a point. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough.
The Coyotes veered away from the edge of oblivion thanks to a late third period goal, but overly aggressive overtime play ultimately cost Phoenix, as they fall in overtime 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Phoenix would put itself behind the eight ball early on in this game, as a Martin Erat turnover was converted in the low slot by Boone Jenner to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 8:15 in the 1st. This was the third game in a row that Phoenix had conceded the first goal of the game.
Unlike previous games where an early deficit became an insurmountable hole, the Coyotes mounted a tremendous response. Erat atoned for his giveaway by tossing the puck in on Sergei Bobrovsky. The puck eventually found its way in the net, although the referee initially waved the goal off. Video review overturned the call on the ice to tie the score at 1-1.
The Coyotes would score a pivotal second consecutive goal to take a lead at 17:53 in the opening frame. Michael Stone stepped into a shot that bounced off the skate of Shane Doan and into the net. Two of the forwards that desperately needed to start producing for the Coyotes scored in the first period.
Phoenix would not enjoy its lead for very long.
At 5:25 in the 2nd, Mark Letestu would benefit from a mad scramble around the defensive zone. Thomas Greiss got beat on a shot that he probably could have stopped, and the Coyotes were once gain on even terms.
The third period was a lively affair, with Phoenix generating some solid scoring chances against Bobrovsky both at even-strength and on the power play. Columbus dictated most of the 5-on-5 play though, as turnovers in the defensive zone hampered Phoenix's ability to push the puck up ice.
Eventually that inability caught up to the Coyotes. Blake Comeau brought the puck in the zone and took a shot on Greiss that the German netminder simply missed.
With the season literally hanging by a thread, and with the net empty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a shot through traffic that found its way past Bobrovsky and into the net to tie the game 3-3 with just 14 seconds remaining. For much of the 2nd half of the season, the goaltending has bailed out the offense. Tonight the offense bailed out an off-night for the goalie.
But the problems the Desert Dogs had with tilted ice would cost them a critical second point. A series of two-on-ones eventually proved too much for the team to handle, and Ryan Johansen would roof a shot over the glove of Greiss to give Columbus the 4-3 victory.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Mark Letestu - A gift wrapped goal to go along with a 58 percent winning percentage in the faceoff circle.
2nd Star - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - OEL gave the Coyotes a point out of this game. Hard to argue that he isn't the second half MVP of this team.
1st Star - Ryan Johansen - The unassisted game winner, a helper on the opening goal and won 59 percent of his faceoffs. An all around excellent performance by Johansen.
- Martin Hanzal was scratched from tonight's game with a lower-body injury. No word on how long he will be out.
- Mike Ribeiro appears to have found his way out of Dave Tippett's dog house, as he logged 16:40 of ice time. He also got the primary assist on Oliver Ekman-Larsson's goal.
- Phoenix had a terrific first period, outshooting Columbus by a margin of 10-4. They would finish the game up in the shot totals 32-30.
- Relatively few penalties in this game: Columbus went 0-1 on its power play and Phoenix went 0-2. Kyle Chipchura and Corey Tropp also scrapped after Tropp took exception to a hit Chipchura laid on Jenner.
- Nathan Horton, a late addition to the Columbus lineup, left the game with an undisclosed injury after playing only 5:21. He did not return.
- Columbus' perspective.
Phoenix's final road game of the season is Thursday night in Nashville, when they play the Predators. Puck drop is at 5 p.m. Arizona time, if you have the stomach to watch.