Winners of five of their past seven games, the Coyotes felt pretty good about themselves coming into the night -- not so much as the night drew to a close. Arizona started strong and opened the scoring, but lost its defensive groove midway through the first period and never regained it, falling to Ottawa 5-1.
Mikkel Boedker is on fire as of late and opened the scoring 4:31 into the contest. From there, the Coyotes were outshot and outscored in the game's final 55 minutes, squandering an opportunity to surpass the .500 mark on home ice.
Wavering levels of play from game to game and period to period are not uncommon for teams near the bottom of the standings. That inconsistency is a major factor in Arizona's losing record.
"It's ups and downs, ups and downs," Boedker said. "So far we've been really, really inconsistent. I don't think I've ever seen (the) Coyotes that inconsistent."
The goaltender suffers from much of the same issues the team in front of him does. Plagued by inconsistency all season, the Coyotes continue to follow the win-loss-win-loss path they have been on since Dec. 29.
Mike Smith started his third game in a row and had a lukewarm performance. He allowed five goals on 33 shots as his record dropped to 7-17-2 on the season. After appearing to have turned the corner earlier in the homestand, Smith's play of late has been less than spectacular, although the play in front of him leaves a lot to be desired.
"Certainly everybody wants to see more saves, but I'd like to see more NHL plays getting made," Tippett said. "He's got to clean up some saves without a doubt, but there's some stuff that's happening in front of him that are just unacceptable -- you shouldn't pile on the goalie."
The Coyotes started strong but faded fast in the opening period, watching their early 1-0 lead wither away into a 2-1 deficit.
Displaying great patience skating into the slot from the right wing, Boedker got as close as he needed and ripped the puck top shelf over Craig Anderson's blocker for his team-leading 12th goal of the season to open the scoring. The Dane now has three goals and four points in his last two games.
"I saw a little opening and once I jumped inside (the defender), I was surprised how much ice there actually was and just being comfortable on that side and taking the ice and grabbing it," Boedker said. "It was nice to finish it off, but it's a bit bittersweet."
Milan, dont-call-me-Zbynek, Michalek tied the game with a top shelf wrister of his own less than three minutes later on the power play. Clarke MacArthur potted his 12th of the season by swatting in a rebound off Smith's pads courtesy of a Kyle Turris wrap-around.
"The first one was PK, but was 4-on-4 at the net and we don't get it cleared," Tippett said. "The next one is 3-on-3 at the net and we don't get it cleared.
"If you want to win hockey games you have to battle for that ice right in front of your net. We didn't win those battles."
Ottawa continued to control play in the second period, scoring the frame's only goal.
A terrible turnover by Keith Yandle on a break out attempt found its way into the back of Arizona's net. The puck stayed in the Coyotes' defensive zone before Mike Hoffman finished off a Mika Zibanejad cross-crease pass for his fourth goal of the season. The goal came seconds after the Coyotes hit the crossbar and the left post on a single shot at the other end.
Leaving little doubt about the game's ultimate outcome, Cody Ceci put the dagger in the Coyotes' hearts with his power play goal 1:26 into the third period. David Legwand piled on with an unassisted goal in the final 10 seconds.
The Coyotes limped off into the night with more work to do on the long road back to prominence.
- Ottawa's perspective: Silver Seven
- Lucas Lessio recorded his first career point, earning a secondary assist on Boedker's goal
- 10 of Boedker's 12 goals this season have come on home ice
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson was selected to be an NHL All-Star before the game
- It was Tobias Rieder's, and Howler's, birthday
- Attendance: 14,933
The Coyotes continue their season-long six-game homestand on Tuesday night for game No. 5 against the San Jose Sharks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.