The Arizona Coyotes lost their second game in a row to the Boston Bruins and have now begun their first losing streak of the 2015-16 season. The Coyotes were horrendously out-shot by the Bruins, 43 to 23, with the Coyotes only registering 4 shots in the second period. Mike Smith fought valiantly but could only do so much.
After scoring a goal just past the 2 minute mark of the first period, the Coyotes didn't really do much again until the third when they briefly woke up to score back to back goals and tie up the game. It was false promise though as the Coyotes fell behind again less than 2 minutes later before giving up another goal to seal the night's outcome.
Despite the first two minutes of the match setting of warning alarms for the Coyotes, Shane Doan had plans to open the scoring at 2.12. After Connor Murphy lunged forward to keep the play on side, Doan and Joe Vitale went to work.
Vitale, playing his first game for the season in place of the injured Jordan Martinook, worked the front of the net and caused enough chaos and confusion that Shane Doan was able to collect Murphy's rebound from Tuukka Rask and slip the puck into the back of the net for his first goal of the season and his 900th NHL career point.
The Boston Bruins challenged the call on the ice using the NHL's new "Coach's Challenge," but their challenge was defeated and they lost their timeout for the remainder of the match.
After Doan's goal, the early dominant play of the Bruins continued, with the shot count reading 10 to 1 in favor of the Bruins after 10 minutes had been played. The 1 shot for the Coyotes in that period being Doan's goal of course. It was starting to get pretty ugly for the Coyotes and it seemed like only a matter of time before Mike Smith broke and let one in.
The teams exchanged powerplay opportunities but neither was able to find the back of the net. For the Bruins, it wasn't for lack of trying, Smith appeared to be on form and turned everything the Bruins threw at him aside. For the Coyotes, the lack of chances on the powerplay only acted to further to create fear in the heart of the Coyotes players and fans as Boston managed to record short-handed shots.
By the end of the first period the shot count had become slightly more respectable for the Coyotes, now reading 12 to 6, still in favor of the Bruins. Joe Vitale and Mike Smith worked hard to keep the Coyotes in front going into the first break but the stats foreshadowed a downfall for the Desert Dogs if they continued to play the unsustainable type of hockey they started with.
Arizona started the second period in the exact opposite way they were meant to. They gave up the first shot of the period to Zdeno Chara and after the first four minutes of play the Bruins reestablished their dominance by pushing the shot count out to 19 to 6. Boston could feel that if they kept peppering Smith, something was bound to go in.
Boston's smooth passing enabled them to find ridiculous amounts of time and space on rushes, with some posters, misses and desperate Smith saves the only thing keeping the score in the Coyotes' favor.
Things started getting feisty and chirpy between the two teams with Brad Marchand managing to get under the skin of several Coyotes. All American Hero Joe Vitale, hell bent on doing everything within his powers to win the match and keep a spot on the team, decided he had had enough and tried to fight Kevan Miller of the Bruins after one feisty incident behind the Coyotes' net.
The fight was awkward as both players kept their helmets on for most of the brawl and Miller only managed to throw off his gloves halfway through the scrap. Vitale was beaten after taking a few too many blows to the head, but he can stand tall and be proud of his effort to try and get the team going.
While Vitale was serving his 5 minutes for fighting he was taken down into the rooms for a suspected concussion and did not return again. His exit from game marked the beginning of the end for the Coyotes.
At the 8.42 mark of the second, the Bruins finally figured out Mike Smith and broke through. The Coyotes got the puck stuck in their half of the ice, and a good pass by David Krejci allowed Tyler Randell to backhand the puck into the net while surrounded by a posse of tired looking Coyotes.
The Coyotes then went onto the penalty-kill. Martin Hanzal and Tobias Rieder combined for a decent 2 on 1 short handed chance, but the Bruins found a way to turn around from that play and force a scramble in front of Smith and the Coyotes' own net. In the scramble Smith lost his stick and though the Coyotes pushed the puck back from immediate danger, it only got as far Torey Krug and Loui Eriksson before it was one-timed by David Krejci past Smith who had his stick the wrong way around.
Arizona went into the final break lucky to be down by only a goal after giving up 19 shots in the second while only taking 4 themselves. There was the potential for the game to get very messy very quickly if the Coyotes did not start placing more pressure on the Bruins forwards or start taking more shots themselves.
Arizona had a decent opportunity to get themselves back in the game and tie it up after Adam McQuaid tripped Steve Downie, but the powerplay failed to click once again for the Coyotes and instead resulted in a short-handed goal to Brad Marchard and the Boston Bruins. Marchard was able to sneak by the Coyote blue liners and receive a long pass before dangling his way past Mike Smith too. His goal was the third short-handed goal the Coyotes have given up this season.
Seconds later, Tobias Rieder answeredfor the Coyotes, backhanding his own rebound past Rask to bring the margin back to 1 goal and give Arizona fans and the team some hope. Kyle Chipchura then pulled off a similar feat at even strength to level the scores at 3 all. All of a sudden it was beginning to feel like a replay of the match against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. The hopes and dreams of Arizona fans had returned and it only felt right that Anthony Duclair, Max Domi or Oliver Ekman-Larsson should score the next goal and lead us to victory and nirvana...
Instead, the Coyotes took two poorly timed penalties which killed any chance to build on momentum. The first of these penalties came courtesy of Martin Hanzal and the second courtesy of Kyle Chipchura, heroes turned villians. Needless to say the Bruins powerplay, who are ranked 2nd in the NHL, went to work across both powerplay chances and set up Patrice Bergeron to score 2 goals. Not only did the Bruins take back the lead but they ensured they were leaving Arizona with the result they wanted.
Even though there were 5 goals scored across the period, and 2 of those were Coyote goals, the period was more depressing than exciting. The Coyotes were really only in contention for roughly 6 or 7 minutes of the period and the rest of puck chasing. Mike Smith's strong start to the match was all but forgotten by the end due to some poor penalty-killing and work on the powerplay.
3 Stars of the Game - Brought to you by the Coyotes Broadcast Team
1st Star - Shane Doan (ARI) with 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points as well as his 900th NHL career point.
2nd Star - David Krejci (BOS) with 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points as well as helping the Bruins take control of the match.
3rd Star - Patrice Bergeron (BOS) with 2 goals for 2 points as well as crushing Arizona's dreams.
I often hear a saying that goes something like this: "Games are won or lost by the special teams." While I don't agree that this is true all of the time, it certainly was the case for tonight. The Coyotes' special teams gave up 4 goals in total while only managing to score 1 themselves. Somebody needs to let the power play units know that they're meant to score goals on the power play, not defend them. The Coyotes have given up more goals on the power play (3) than they have scored (2). This is ridiculous.
If it wasn't for the work of Doan, Murphy and Vitale at the start of the match, the match would have been hands down the worst start to a game by the Coyotes this year. As was the case against Minnesota, the Coyotes were too often caught chasing the game and the puck, hemmed in their zone and taking bad penalties. Something has to give.
While the game wasn't overly pretty (for Coyotes fans at least) nor did it ever have the sort of feeling that said 'the Coyotes could win,' the 5-3 scoreline is flattering. In a game where the Coyotes were outplayed in almost every way, it is a positive that they still found a way to score and potentially bring the game back. They didn't bring the game back, but if this match had been played in the same style last season, it could have easily been 5-1 to the Bruins.
Maxi Domi, Anthony Duclair and Martin Hanzal all went pointless for the first time in the season. That isn't to say they played poorly. But we all knew their point-streaks couldn't last forever and when they finished other guys would need to pick up the slack. Well, Shane Doan, Tobias Rieder and Kyle Chipchura tried to pick up the slack, though they couldn't do it alone. We might need to start sending out search parties during Arizona games because Mikkel Boedker and Antoine Vermette are both missing and goalless.
And on the subject of Boedker, before he got injured last season he was being praised for shooting more often as previously he had been a serial pass-before-shoot kind of player. Well he seems to have regressed back to the pass-before-shoot style of play. Boedker has averaged roughly 20 minutes of ice time over the last three matches, and only managed 2 shots in that time. That simply is not good enough for a player playing first line and power play minutes. The Coyotes needed shots.
For a quick look at match stats and Pawprints, check out the Instant Recap.
For a Bostonian perspective, check out Stanley Cup of Chowder.
Arizona have a two day break before traveling to New Jersey to take on the Devils for the start of a 5 game road trip on the East Coast. Puck drop is at 4.00pm Arizona time and can be watched on Fox Sports Arizona.