A night removed from an exciting victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Arizona Coyotes followed up their impressive performance with yet another great showing against a playoff team. Only this time, it was the St Louis Blues. And the result wasn't as favorable; a 2-1 defeat. Mike Smith turned in yet another stellar performance and Sam Gagner scored for the Coyotes, but it wasn't enough to emerge victorious. Alexander Steen and Dmitrij Jaskin scored for the Blue Notes.
The Coyotes drew first blood about five minutes into the game via Sam Gagner's stick. He, alongside Brandon McMillan, forced the two-on-one break. St Louis defended it well, but Gagner picked his spot even better, beating Jake Allen high glove side. Allen was hardly phenomenal, but with his team dominating play most of the game, he didn't have to be. He ended with 25 stops on 26 shots.
It wasn't long until the Blues top line found its way onto the scoreboard after that. TJ Oshie drove to Mike Smith, who made the initial save, but couldn't recover in time to stop Alexander Steen, who put home the rebound to tie the game at one.
St Louis would carry the momentum over into the second period, where they would outshoot the Coyotes 14-4. Only one would get past Smith though - a Dmitrij Jaskin breakaway caused by a Keith Yandle offensive zone pinch.
The first and only power play for the Coyotes came in the climax of the game with just over two minutes left in the third, and the Coyotes did what they could. Several top notch chances were there, including a blistering Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot from the point, but nothing got past Allen when it mattered.
Once again, Mike Smith was sensational, ending with 34 saves against 36 shots taken - good for a .944 save percentage. His performance was riddled with highlight-worthy saves, including one midway through the third period, where he robbed Alexander Steen of a point-blank chance. It was his fifth consecutive strong start, as his early season struggles appear to be a thing of the past. He may not yet have earned the forgiveness of the Coyotes fanbase, but he has been the Coyotes' best player in the month of February.
But he was hardly the only player worth mentioning who showed admirable effort. Outside of Yandle's momentary lapse in the offensive zone, Arizona was solid defensively despite St Louis being in the driver's seat. The Coyote defenders were stifling, physical and showed excellent defensive effort. Even if they didn't win this game, this is the kind of play that breeds success.
- For the St. Louis perspective, check out St. Louis Game Time.
- Sam Gagner's first period goal was his tenth on the season. He has notched at least ten goals in all eight of his NHL seasons.
- Chris Summers got the start in lieu of Connor Murphy, who was a late scratch.
- Backup goalie Mike McKenna's hometown is St Louis, Missouri. He didn't see any playtime, obviously.
- Yandle failed to notch a point, ending his NHL-leading 7-game point streak.
- Shot count by period: 1st - 16-9 STL, 2nd - 14-4 STL, 3rd - 13-6 ARI, Total - 36-26 STL
- Only three special teams opportunities for the Coyotes: a perfect 2-2 on the penalty kill, and 0-1 on the power play.
- It might just be the month that's got Smith playing better. Since signing with the Coyotes, Smith has a .939 save percentage with a 22-8-4 record in February.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Alexander Steen - Him along with linemate TJ Oshie drove play most of the game. His first period goal marked a turning point in the game.
- Dmitrij Jaskin - Game-winning goal
- Jake Allen - Although Mike Smith was just as solid - if not better, Allen had an excellent night in his own right and walks away the victor.
The Coyotes get some needed time off, as they travel back home to Glendale to host the Sharks for their next contest on Friday. Puck drop is 7:00PM Arizona time.