Winds of change are sweeping through Glendale, but there are still games to be played.
The Arizona Coyotes hosted the Calgary Flames in the first game since declaring their intent to build for the future through the trade of goaltender Devan Dubnyk and other reports. It's a long climb back to contention as evidenced by the their game on Thursday.
In the final game of a season-long six-game homestand, the Coyotes fell to the Flames 4-1, dropping their record to 16-23-4 on the season and their homestand record to 2-4.
After playing well for the game's first two periods, the Coyotes failed to carry that level of play over to the third. Arizona had only seven shots on goal in the game's final period, while they were out scored 3-0. Their goal differential is now -30 in third periods this season.
"Solid until the third," head coach Dave Tippett said about his team's effort and execution. "I thought the difference was we had two or three real good chances in the second where we could have pushed the game along a bit (but) didn't capitalize.
"Then we didn't generate very much in the third."
Mike Smith is at the forefront of the changing times in Arizona, maintaining his job as the undisputed No. 1 Coyotes goalie going forward in the wake of Dubnyk's trade. He played well early, but struggled in the third period along with his team.
Stopping 21-of-24 pucks, Smith did end up with another one in the "L" column, but the loss did not lie solely at his feet. A deflection off a defender led to Calgary's first goal, atrocious defensive coverage in transition led to the Flames' second and they sealed the game with an empty netter just before regulation time expired.
"We've got to play a full 60 minutes," Smith said. "There's just breakdowns and a bad bounce in the second (period) on that first goal and then a couple there in the third you'd like to see go the other way."
Mikael Backlund, David Jones, Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan scored for the Flames while Mikkel Boedker stayed hot with his fifth goal in the last four games for the Coyotes.
The game finally found some offense after a rather uneventful first period. Each team found the scoresheet in the second period.
Backlund continued his torrid goal-scoring pace, picking up a goal in his fifth consecutive game after returning from injury. His wrist shot bounced off Keith Yandle and beat Smith on the Flames' first shot of the period 1:03 in.
"We've seen a lot of those this year -- off the stick or shin pads of Yandle and in," Tippett said. "I like the way the guys responded though. It seems like we try so hard and one like that goes in, but our guys rebounded."
The Coyotes countered by extending a goal streak of their own. Boedker potted a goal in his fourth consecutive game, a career high. A beautiful inside-outside move between the faceoff circles cleared the way for an open shot that the Danish forward took full advantage of for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
"It's not worth talking about one person when you're losing or when you're winning," Boedker said. "We're a team in here and everyone has to contribute and (the puck) just happens to fall on my stick right now and go into the back of the net."
Despite controlling play for much of the game's first 40 minutes, a defensive lapse put the Flames back on top.
Jones scored his seventh of the season, slapping in a rebounded T.J. Brodie shot. The Flames had three players below the faceoff circles to Arizona's one. The end result was to be expected.
"Poor, poor coverage on their second goal," Tippett said. "Poor rush coverage by a couple of forwards...That's people not doing their job. That's not miscommunication, that's people not doing their job.
"Lessio and Erat are both puck watching and Stone is slow to get back and Vermette is late getting back."
Calgary scored twice in the game's final 4:02, the first on a Giordano shot that beat a screened Smith and the second on Monahan's empty-netter.
The Coyotes have been bad in third periods all season and it led to their demise yet again on Thursday.
The long homestand is over and the Coyotes head out on the road for the next eight games. The road trip starts on Saturday in Minnesota against the Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m Arizona time.