The Arizona Coyotes lost their first game of the season last night. But it certainly wasn't for lack of trying.
A furious effort in the third period almost brought the Coyotes all the way back from a 4-1 deficit, but it wasn't quite enough to beat the Minnesota Wild at Gila River Arena Thursday night.
The Minnesota Wild wasted absolutely no time attacking the Coyotes net, placing heavy pressure on Mike Smith and the Coyotes defense in the first minute of the game. Arizona would get a power play to stem the tide, but could not convert.
Minnesota would open the scoring nine minutes into the first thanks to a Boyd Gordon holding penalty. The puck bounced off the boards and right to an open Zach Parise, who backhanded the rebound into the net.
Less than a minute later, Thomas Vanek would take advantage of a missed shot by Michael Stone to lead a two on one rush up ice. He forced Stone down to prevent the pass, and then roofed a shot over Smith's shoulder.
Arizona would get some push back from their fourth line, but soon fell farther behind in the shot count. The Coyotes would go into the break down 2-0, and on their third penalty kill of the night.
Arizona would start the second period off strong by killing off the carry-over minor. Tobias Rieder would generate the best scoring chance of the game for the Coyotes to that point with a slapshot from the slot that went just wide of the net. Max Domi would draw an interference minor
There would be a goal scored on the power play, but it was not Arizona's. Jason Zucker skated around Oliver Ekman-Larsson and drew a penalty. He would find Mikko Koivu on the delayed call to make the score 3-0 and end Mike Smith's night. Anders Lindback would enter the game for Arizona.
The Wild were absolutely relentless all night long. Anthony Duclair gave the Coyotes a ray of hope after he converted on a gorgeous Max Domi pass at 12:14, but the Wild would need all of 22 seconds to counter and keep the lead at three goals.
From there, it got nasty. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Eric Haula got into each other's faces near the Coyotes bench, after Anthony Duclair appeared to bump a Wild player during a line-change. After all was said and done, OEL and Haula took concurrent unsportsmanlike minors, while Steve Downie received a 10 minute misconduct for good measure.
It looked like the Coyotes were going to go into the second intermission down by three, but Max Domi had other ideas. He batted a puck out of the air and embarrassed Jared Spurgeon before going five-hole on Dubnyk with ten seconds left in the period. Arizona was down only 4-2 with 20 minutes to play.
Minnesota gave Arizona plenty of chances to get back into the game, with two early power plays in the third period. The Coyotes would not convert on either however, and despite the sustained pressure Arizona could not break through.
Michael Stone would make things interesting at 15:12 of the third period, when he got the rebound from a Shane Doan shot to put it past Dubnyk. Despite having the overwhelming majority of play throughout the third, it was not enough to overcome the early deficit.
Corsi events throughout the game started out in Minnesota's favor, thanks in no small part to the possession time from three early power plays.
|Minnesota Wild||Arizona Coyotes|
|1st Period Corsi Events||21||14|
|2nd Period Corsi Events||12||9|
|3rd Period Corsi Events||5||30|
What is undeniable is that Arizona came roaring back in the third period, thanks not only to a couple of power plays but also to sustained zone pressure. They absolutely took it to Minnesota, and nearly climbed the mountain. The shot attempts chart shows just how dramatic the comeback was:
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Jason Pominville - Two big assists for Minnesota to give the Wild a big lead.
2nd Star- Max Domi - He just keeps getting better and better. A goal and an assist on the night.
1st Star - Zach Parise - Parise put up a goal and an assist of his own at a critical juncture of the second period.
It's probably not a huge surprise at this point, but Max Domi is really establishing himself as a possession master. He had a 52.8% Corsi For Percentage in the first two games of the season while the Coyotes as a team had a 44.4% mark. It was plainly evident in the first period, when he was using his hands to clear space and find teammates like Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker to extend the time in the offensive zone.
The fourth line of Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Steve Downie also had some definite potential last night, with some early chances in the period thanks in part to tough work along the boards and some deceptive speed. They could be a good energy line.
Hands down the worst start to a game by the Coyotes this year. Chasing the game, hemmed in their zone, taking bad penalties...all the signs of an inexperienced team playing with some tired legs.
It's been a long time since Arizona dominated a single period like they did the third. Chalk it up to score effects, bad Minnesota penalties, or whatever else. But the Coyotes threw everything they had at Dubnyk.
The Coyotes welcome the Boston Bruins to town on Saturday, October 17th. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM Arizona time.