Call them streaky, call them inconsistent, call them what you will, it's tough to figure out the Arizona Coyotes on any given night.
Coming off a 7-of-8 game losing streak, the Coyotes won four of their next five before getting blown out by the St. Louis Blues 6-0 in Glendale on Tuesday night. Arizona has not earned a victory over the Blues in Glendale since March 22, 2011.
"Very disappointing," Shane Doan called the defeat. "Ugly, embarrassing, all the things that you can say. It's 6-0 at home."
The Blues dominated from the word go, blowing past the Coyotes at even strength and on special teams. Poor penalty killing and even worse puck control doomed Arizona, as they were promptly brought right back down to Earth. The loss quelled many of the positive feelings surrounding the team as of late.
"We were not even close in that game," head coach Dave Tippett said of the game at 4-0. "That's not a goaltending issue, that's a look-in-the-mirror issue and see where we're at.
"You can't play like that, that's garbage."
St. Louis outshot the Coyotes 39-23 and continued its power play dominance, scoring three power play goals.
"You look at the guys they have out there, they're top notch players and they're snapping it around pretty good," Keith Yandle said. "It's one of those things -- we have to stay out of the box."
David Backes was the primary beneficiary of St. Louis' scoring explosion, potting a natural hat trick in the second period, including a pair of power play tallies, and scoring four goals in total.
Mike Smith followed up his solid Saturday performance with a lackluster one on Tuesday. The 32-year-old allowed six goals on 39 shots, dropping his season record to 6-16-2. However, it would have been difficult for any goalie to thrive given the play in front of the net.
"I did some things really well tonight," Smith said. "I feel like I can take something out of the game, it's not all negative, even though it's tough to swallow right now."
As bad as it ended for Arizona, the game's start wasn't much better.
Bloodied, bruised and injured, the Coyotes soldiered through the game's first minute that saw Antoine Vermette head to the dressing room with a facial laceration and Smith take a few minutes to recover from some sort of lower-body injury.
To add insult to injury, the Blues scored first on Paul Stastny's eighth goal of the season. Stastny swatted a Dmitrij Jaskin rebound through Smith's five-hole. It was the only score of a 17-shot opening period for St. Louis.
The Blues continued to put lots of rubber on net and ran away with the game in the middle frame, scoring three goals and utterly dominating play. Backes was a one-man wrecking crew in the period, scoring a pair of power play goals, his 10th and 11th goals of the season.
A beautiful tic-tac-toe sequence from Stastny to T.J. Oshie to Backes drew Smith out of position and the Blues' captain easily ripped the puck into the open net. A little more than a minute later, Backes potted his second of the night, wristing the puck top shelf on a partial breakaway.
Backes waited seven minutes to complete his natural hat trick, finishing a Patrik Berglund cross-ice pass as more than a few hats rained down from Gila River Arena.
"After they got that fourth one on a poor mistake by us, it would have been easy to take (Smith) out," Tippett said. "But you look at the shots, shots were 32-14. That's not a goaltender problem, that's a people in front of him problem.
"To take the goaltender out in that situation, you're taking a lot of guys off the hook and we need more guys on the hook in that room there."
The team in front did not improve and the Backes show continued in the third period. He scored his fourth straight goal, this time while falling down.
Arizona finally let someone else score for a change as Jaden Schwartz netted his 13th of the season on yet another Blues power play goal. The Coyotes stopped the bleeding for the rest of the game, but will certainly need to hit the reset button yet again after a loss like this.
- St. Louis' perspective: St. Louis Game Time
- Martin Hanzal did not play, he missed the game with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day
- Joe Vitale played in his 200th NHL game
- Backes' hat trick was the third of his career
- Oshie has a point in six straight games
- Attendance: 10,876
1. David Backes - Four goals
2. Brian Elliott - 23-save shutout
3. T.J. Oshie - Three assists
The Coyotes continue their long homestand on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.