It was a back and forth affair for most of the evening, but the Arizona Coyotes lost control late as they fell 5-1 to the New York Rangers Saturday night. New York rode a four goal third period and a great showing from goaltender Cam Talbot to cruise by the Desert Dogs, who lost their third straight game.
The first excellent opportunity Arizona had came at about the 12 minute mark of the first period. Coming off the power play, Shane Doan received the puck down on the low boards, dumped it to Chipchura on the other side, who then found Antoine Vermette in the low slot, but he couldn't get the puck past New York goaltender Cam Talbot. Talbot was solid throughout, stopping 34 of Arizona's 35 shots.
Chris Kreider wouldn't miss his shot, though, as he scored the game's first goal in the second period. He turned on the jets and blew right by Michael Stone on the zone entry, and a simple forehand-backhand beat Mike Smith with ease. Smith backslid to early-season Smith, allowing five goals on 32 shots.
But Arizona would roar back, at least for a little bit. An excellent chance for the Coyotes came in the form of a Chipchura pass to an open Lucas Lessio, but Lessio couldn't wrangle it down. Lessio wouldn't leave completely empty-handed, though, as he would get an assist that same shift off a similar play - this time Ekman-Larsson to Vermette for the tying score.
From there till the end of the second period, it was a back-and-forth hockey game with plenty of great scoring opportunities both ways, with the momentum favoring the Coyotes. One shot in particular involved Antoine Vermette trying a between-the-legs shot, but just didn't have the room or angle to capitalize.
In the first two periods, Arizona did a great job keeping NHL-goals leader Rick Nash out of the game. That wouldn't keep. About halfway through the third, Nash snuck behind the Coyotes defense and beat Smith high glove side. He made it look pretty easy for his league-leading 35th goal of season to give the Rangers the 2-1 lead.
The Coyotes had a great chance to tie the game minutes after that. Tobias Rieder blew by the New York defenders on a dumped pass and drove hard to the net. Then the defender took him out and Rieder was awarded the penalty shot. Talbot got the better of him, though, as Rieder couldn't sneak it five-hole on the attempt.
After a delay of game penalty in the following seconds, Arizona found themselves on the power play with a chance to tie the game. However, New York's Kevin Hayes added insurance in the form of a short-handed goal.
From there, the flood gates were officially open. Marc Staal scored off a broken play where no one in Sedona Red knew where the puck was and former Coyote Lee Stempniak added another for good measure to end the scoring at 5-1 in New York's favor.
This was a perfect example of a game where the Arizona Coyotes didn't finish. The Coyotes were keeping up with the Rangers shot for shot (both figuratively and literally) up until that Hayes short-handed goal. The defense was solid, and the offense was generating consistent pressure, chiefly Lucas Lessio and Tobias Rieder. Something just clicked in the third period, and everything went New York's way. They're one of the best teams in the NHL and a loss to them is acceptable, but this game felt less like a decision of who had more talent than one where the Coyotes just broke down late.
- For the Ranger perspective, check out Blue Shirt Banter.
- This was Rangers coach Alain Vigneault's 500th win. He becomes to 20th coach in NHL history to achieve the milestone.
- Arizona's scratches: B.J. Crombeen, Alexandre Bolduc, and Brandon Gormley
- Arizona defensemen have points on the Coyotes' last ten goals.
- Joe Vitale returned to the lineup after missing nine games to an upper-body injury.
- Shots: Arizona 35, New York 32
- Special teams: 0-3 on the power play (including a short-handed goal allowed) and 0-0 on the penalty kill.
- Speaking of the penalty kill, this is the first time all season the Coyotes have not committed a single penalty over the course of a game.
- Attendence: 14,719
Three Stars of the Game
- Chris Krieder - Scored New York's first goal and probably could have scored a couple more. Was clearly the best player on the ice throughout the game.
- Cam Talbot - 34-of-35 for a .971 save percentage in a winning effort.
- Lucas Lessio - An impressive showing from Lessio, who assisted on the Vermette goal and was 215 pounds of hustle throughout the game.
Next up, the Coyotes travel to the Pepsi Center in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. Game starts at 7:00 p.m. Arizona time.