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Poor start prevents Arizona Coyotes from mounting a comeback versus Vancouver

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The Arizona Coyotes couldn't make it all the way back after falling behind 3-0 after one period.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Slow starts have been the story of the Arizona Coyotes season so far. Though they mounted an impressive comeback, a disastrous first period ultimately doomed the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 loss against Vancouver at Gila River Arena Friday night.

Game Summary

The Canucks wasted no time in pouncing on the Coyotes. Rookie Jared McCann continued his underrated start to the the season with his fifth goal on the year just 1:56 into the first period. Three and a half minutes later, Alexandre Burrows scored a goal of his own, and Mike Smith got an extremely quick hook after allowing two goals on three shots.

If the move to Anders Lindback was meant to inspire the Coyotes to play a bit harder, it didn't seem to work initially. Brendan Gaunce scored his first of the season at 10:59 to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead. Arizona did precious little in the rest of the frame to give the home fans hope that they would come back. The score held 3-0 after one.

Though the second period started much like the first, Arizona finally broke through. Coyotes rookie Max Domi scored a tally of his own at 5:50 of the second, thanks to one of two helpers from Antoine Vermette, who finally recorded his first points of the year after a nightmarish start to 2015-16.

Arizona's penalty kill did a great job keeping the Coyotes in striking distance after two mid-period minors from Connor Murphy and Shane Doan. This allowed Steve Downie to bring the score within one at 17:04 with his first goal of the season.

But sometimes, it's not how many penalties you take, but when you take them. Zbynek Michalek was sent off for hooking 40 seconds later, and the Canucks' lethal combination of Daniel Sedin, Radim Vrbata, and Henrik Sedin made the Coyotes pay with a power play goal at 18:08. This brought Vancouver's lead back to two goals.

They would need that cushion, as the Coyotes mounted a charge in the third period. An Alexandre Edler penalty midway through the third gave the Coyotes a bit of extended possession time, but they were unable to break through. Tobias Rieder would set up a tremendous finish to the game with a six on five goal at 17:39. Though Arizona put a flurry of shots on Richard Bachman in the dying minutes of the third, no more found their way through, and the Coyotes lost 4-3 in regulation.

Our Three Stars of the Game

  • 3rd Star - Daniel Sedin - Sedin's goal would prove to be the game winner, which just goes to show that even if the Swedish twins are slowing down, they're still deadly.
  • 2nd Star - Antoine Vermette - Vermette recorded his first points on the year with two assists. With Martin Hanzal's absence, the Coyotes need Vermette in their top six badly, and he delivered.
  • 1st Star - Luca Sbisa - Sbisa also had two assists on the night. He also played key shorthanded minutes for the Canucks to preserve their lead as the Coyotes attacked.

Fancy Stat Report

Beware the power of score effects. Arizona trailed for almost the entire game, which meant the Canucks could afford to stay back a little bit more on defense to preserve the lead, while Arizona had to take more risks to fight back. As a result, the Corsi numbers for the Coyotes look pretty respectable.

Vancouver Canucks Arizona Coyotes
First Period Corsi Events 13 23
Second Period Corsi Events 17 17
Third Period Corsi Events 10 21
Total Corsi Events 40 61

In chart form, you can see that Arizona really started getting the upper hand after the Canucks opened up a two goal lead.

Takeaways

  • Defensive mistakes continue to pile up, only now, Mike Smith is not playing well enough to mask them. Arizona's blue-line problems have replaced its offensive woes as the biggest concern the franchise has moving forward.
  • Arizona's younger forwards continue to score not just pretty goals, but timely ones too. Domi's marker gave the Coyotes a bit of life in the second, and Rieder's third period goal gave the Coyotes a chance to tie the game. Perhaps the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's team is that the 2015-16 Coyotes can chase the game more effectively than they used to.
  • Tyler Gaudet recorded his first assist on the year on Downie's goal. Gaudet is going to make Don Maloney's decision when Joe Vitale comes off injured reserve quite difficult.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes get a chance to heal up, as their next game isn't until Thursday night versus the Avalanche. Will Colorado's ghastly start to the season continue in Arizona? Puck drop for that one will be at 7 PM Arizona time.