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Coyotes finally head home with a bad case of road trip blues...

A 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues capped off a disastrous road trip for the Arizona Coyotes.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Have you removed your hands from over your eyes yet? Stopped holding your breath? Maybe buffed out some nail marks from the seat of your couch? It's been a rough five games for the Arizona Coyotes.

Sadly the ending of this long road trip wasn't very sweet for the team as they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at the Scottrade Center.

When the team left for Nashville, their first stop of five, they had just finished sweeping a three game in four day home stand. But it seems their good fortune ended there. The 4-1 loss to the Blues caps off a dreadful road trip for the Coyotes, where they failed to pick up a single point despite their efforts.

For the eight game in a row Shane Doan, now currently on IR to make room for the Coyotes newest addition, was a scratch for the team. He was joined by health scratches Connor Murphy and John Scott.

First Period

If you watched the first period of the game against the Blues and had some semblance of hope for our haggard team I can't blame you. The first period seemed like a flash of the brilliance we know this team can be capable of. It was Tobias Rieder's 100th NHL game, all of which being played with the Coyotes with whom he has notched 35 career points, and he seemed to be all over the ice. He's scored 6 goals so far this season and is clearly itching to add a few more.

The game against the Blues also marked the return of Viktor Tikhonov to the Coyotes roster, for the first time since 2009. He logged a total of 11:43 ice time in his return and was on a line with Boyd Gordan and Dustin Jeffrey. However it would be none of these players that would score the first goal of the night.

No, that honor would go to Steve Downie who had been chirping away at the Blues since his first shift on the ice. After spending almost the entire first minute of the game in their own end the Coyotes finally got a chance to play the puck in the offensive zone. The line of Jordan Martinook, Brad Richardson, and Downie put in a few hard shifts before getting lucky. Catching the juicy rebound that resulted from Richardson's shot Downie was able to sweep one past Jake Allen. The rest of the period would be full of face paced play and puck domination but there would be no more goals.

Second Period

In what truly seems to be typical Coyotes fashion, their one goal lead would not last for long. The team that looked on-top of the puck and 110% into the game the first period once again fell victim to defensive errors that would prove to be costly. A handful of defensive errors in the offensive zone and a turn over, due to an overlook of the puck on Anthony Duclair's part, in the neutral zone had the puck leaving the Coyotes control and ending up right on the stick of Vladimir Tarasenko. With a break away Tarasenko would net one on Mike Smith to tie the score.

It's been a while since we've seen the dynamic rookie duo in action and Duclair had a rough game tonight. His time on the ice was riddled with small mental and defensive mistakes that started to take a toll as he was demoted to the fourth line.

I feel as though this should be no surprise at this point, but later in the period the Coyotes would give up their seventh short handed goal of the year as Alexander Steen scores to put the Blues up one. Would it be possible to refuse power plays in the upcoming games? After yet another defensive error in the offensive zone, Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk took advantage of a dropped pass and created a two on one with Michael Stone, forcing Oliver Ekman-Larsson to rush to get back. This was not the first mistake that OEL would make that resulted in a goal. Ekman-Larsson accumulated a -12 over the past five games.

After a weird call in a situation that had Tobias Rieder taking out Jake Allen and no penalty being called and no goal being awarded there was confusion on the ice. Tippett would say at the time that the call made no sense to him, Rieder stating that the reason the ref gave him was that he toe picked and therefore there was no call, but would later say that the refs seemed to make the right call in post game interviews. Either way, this incident didn't seem to add any wind to the Coyotes' sails as they came out for the third period a bit lackluster.

Third Period

While Tippett has cited poor goaltending as one of the main factors of the past five losses, and while I agree Smith and Anders Lindback have not been up to par lately, I also find it hard to ignore the blunders that our defense continue to make that allow for good scoring chances. Mike Smith made some impressive saves this game very well keeping the team in the game, but this game would yet again prove that defensive mistakes can be disastrous.

Losing an important face off in the defensive zone the Coyotes would spend some time along the boards, grappling with the puck in the defensive zone. There would be a wrap around pass that is intercepted by Robby Fabri who gives the puck over to Jori Lehtera. Letarra, with a no-look pass, sends the puck to Shattenkirk who scores backdoor on Mike Smith. But the scoring couldn't stop there could it? The Coyotes just couldn't seem to muster enough energy to get back on their feet in this game.

As the last few minutes of the third period dwindled down it seemed that everyone, the team and the fans included, were counting down the seconds until this heinous road trip would officially be over. Mike Smith was pulled from net later in the third in an attempt to even the score. Due to a delayed off-side penalty on the Coyotes the Blues were able to gain control of the puck and David Backes gets in a shot from the Coyotes blue line to score an empty-netter. This Backes empty net goal would tie a nice little bow on the game before the Coyotes were handed their fifth consecutive loss.

Losses are always disappointing, but five in a row is hard to swallow. After five uniquely heartbreaking losses the Coyotes fail to garner even one point on the road. As a result they have currently surrendered the third playoff spot in the Pacific Division that they had been cultivating to their competition up north, the Canucks.

Our Three Stars of the Game

  • 3rd Star: Steve Downie. Scoring the lone goal of the night and ending the night as one of only three players in a +1 state you have to give him some credit for finding that rebound and being a presence on the ice.
  • 2nd Star: Alexander Steen. With one goal, one assist Steen scored on a two on one rush, what would be the game wining goal for the Blues and also helped assist on the last goal of the night.
  • 1st Star: Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk ended the night with the lone assist on the game winning goal and noticed a goal of his own of a beautiful back hand past, wristing one easily past Smith.

Fancy Stats

Arizona

St. Louis

1st Period Corsi Events

16

18

2nd Period Corsi Events

21

19

3rd Period Corsi Events

14

18

Total Corsi Events

51

55


Take-Aways

  • Perhaps Connor Murphy isn't the problem? It was not much of a surprise when the young defensemen was a healthy scratch for the second game of the road trip agains the Detroit Red Wings. After four penalties in two home games and a costly offside infraction in the game against Buffalo, many were okay with Murphy sitting out a game. At first Tippett's explanation was a bit vague, but after scratching him for the third time in a row Tippett stated that his replacement, Stefan Elliot, was making it hard to find a reason to take him out of the game. But with defensive turnovers and errors coming from every line of the d-core, and three losses coming with Murphy off the ice one has to question how long this will last.
  • When will the short handed goals stop? After allowing their seventh short-handed in just 28 games this season the Coyotes have allowed the most short handed goals in the league and average out to one about every four games. At some point you have to sit the team down, work on some drills, do something, anything to stop this costly occurrence from continuing as the season progresses.
  • You've got to look for some bright-side in this game. It just sucks that it might be that this was the first time on this road trip that the opposing team didn't scored five goals on us. That one less goal has to count for something right? That has to mean were making some progress right? Right?
  • The Coyotes can't be counted out just yet. Yes, it's technically early in the season to judge just how well a team is doing in terms of playoff position, but is anything every technical with this team? Bringing playoffs back to the Valley would be tremendous for the team and just a few points shy and one game in hand from the third playoff position, that spot is so close you can almost taste it. If the Coyotes can pick off where they left off at home two weeks ago, nabbing that spot back would not be impossible.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes finally return home to the desert to take on the Minnesota Wild. They play the Wild for the second time this season on Friday at 7 PM Arizona time.