The Arizona Coyotes are demonstrating a pattern for extended games. After the first two games of the preseason went to overtime, it took extra time to decide the winner of Wednesday's nationally televised game against the Calgary Flames. Despite holding a two-goal lead early, the Coyotes faltered in overtime, 4-3.
Broadcast on the NHL Network live from Kraft Hockeyville in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, the game had a lot of special atmosphere about it. Despite fitting no more than 1000 in the Sylvan Lake Multiplex, the festivities surrounding the scrimmage showcased the passion and ceremony that makes NHL special to every fan.
The Coyotes showcased the offense early. Sam Gagner pulled the trigger on a good early scoring three-on-one opportunity, but was just off target, missing high. Moments later, Darian Dziurzynski slaps the puck at goaltender Joel Ortio and Matt Kassian gets to the rebound to draw first blood. Coyotes up 1-0.
The Coyotes were quick to build on their lead. BJ Crombeen fields his own dump into the zone, slips it to Lauri Korpikoski who feeds it beautifully to Joe Vitale down the center seam. Vitale does not find twine on his first try, but manages to smack his own mid-air rebound over Ortio's blocker. Coyotes up 2-0.
Mike McKenna got the start in net for the Desert Dogs and was solid early. He was very rarely out of position and made several textbook saves as well as some less routine ones. First, he robbed Max Reinhart of a short-handed breakaway attempt. Moments later, McKenna again made an athletic save, this time a two-on-one opportunity.
McKenna would prove mortal, though. After Henrik Samuelsson was called for a delay of game penalty, the ensuing Calgary power play resulted in a Deryk Engelland seeing-eye slapshot to cut the lead down to one shortly before the end of the first period.
The second period saw the Flames come hot out the gate and they are rewarded not two minutes into the period. Markus Granland found Brian McGrattan on a pass through the crease, potting the equalizer for the Flames. But Arizona answered quickly. Chris Summers lasered a pass that found Crombeen at point blank range for the easy go-ahead goal. Coyotes led 3-2.
McKenna was solid for most of the second period until Sven Baertschi slapped one by him in the waning seconds of the second period to tie the game. It muddied what was otherwise a solid night for the 31-year old goaltender.
Enter Brendan Burke, who would man the pipes opposite Calgary's Doug Carr for what was an uneventful third period. Both would continue their duties into extra hockey.
With 1:50 to go, Curtis Glencross tipped a Russell shot from the point for the game-winner. It was waved off at first because it appeared Glencross played it with a high stick, but it was overturned not seconds later, effectively and controversially ending the game.
- It was something of a homecoming for Shane Doan. Captain Coyote hails from Halkirk, less than two hours from Sylvan Lake.
- Tippett played around with the line combinations, ending the game with different lines than he started with. Samuelsson was replaced by Doan alongside Martin Hanzal and Max Domi, and Tobias Rieder stepped in alongside Crombeen and Vitale in replacement of Korpikoski.
- Despite moving the puck well on the man advantage, the Coyotes power play was kept off the board on several attempts.
- On the other side, after having the 26th-ranked penalty kill in the league last season, the penalty kill looked especially shaky in this game. Calgary's first and last goals of the game were on the man advantage.
- The Flames outshot the Coyotes 31-23 in regulation.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Joe Vitale - Vitale continued his strong preseason with another solid effort. In addition to his deft display of hand-eye coordination on the second goal, he was a wrecking ball on the boards and a presence on the penalty kill. He is demonstrating early why he was such a high priority signing for Don Maloney this past offseason.
- Tobias Rieder - Showed some good speed and good hockey sense. During the second intermission, he was a player Don Maloney mentioned by name in his interview with Ron MacLean that stood out in the first two periods.
- Gormley-Summers line - Gormley's all-around play was more impressive, but Summers had two assists on the night, capping off a solid night for the Coyotes' top pairing.
The Coyotes continue their preseason slate at San Jose this Friday to take on the Sharks. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Arizona time.