The Arizona Coyotes came within one blocked shot of forcing overtime in the dying second of regulation. But if you saw how the game started, even that felt like a loss.
Chris Kreider and Lee Stempniak both scored two goals as the New York Rangers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 Thursday night. Sam Gagner scored twice for Arizona, and Mark Arcobello added yet another goal to his impressive season with the Desert Dogs.
Arizona wasted no time getting to Cam Talbot and the Rangers. Arcobello sliced through the defense thanks to a David Moss centering pass and gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead just 41 seconds into the game. The Rangers would counter with a Kreider power play goal at 8:11 however.
New York would get into penalty trouble in the second half of the first period, and Gagner and the Coyotes made them pay. Gagner roofed one high over Talbot's shoulder at 17:54 on a 5 on 3 to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead, and at 19:20 scored again on a backhander. Arizona was up by two going into intermission.
In the second period, it would take five minutes for the Rangers to cut their deficit in half. John Moore fired a shot on net that Lee Stempniak just managed to deflect over Smith's glove hand to make the score 3-2. The Coyotes would hold that lead until 19:48, when Kreider scored for the second time in the game. The goal came just ten seconds after an apparent double-minor for high sticking on the Rangers was missed by the officials. Mike Smith took an unsportsmanlike conduct minor while Dave Tippett argued with the officials.
It looked like the Coyotes could at least force overtime and get a point, but it was not to be. Lee Stempniak scored at 17:46 of the third period thanks in part to a blown assignment by Andrew Campbell. Despite a 6 on 4 to end the game, the Coyotes were unable to find the equalizer.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Sam Gagner - Two power play goals is a big lift for a forward struggling to score. Gagner looked highly engaged in creative in this game.
2nd Star: Chris Kreider - Kreider's two goals were of the opportunistic variety, which is exactly how the Rangers have propelled themselves to the top of the standings.
1st Star: Lee Stempniak - The former Coyote started the comeback for the Rangers, and then finished it with the game winner. Stempniak looked like his former self tonight.
- Henrik Samuelsson made his NHL debut tonight. He played 9:33, took one shot, and won the only faceoff he took. No major mistakes, but not enough time to really contribute either.
- The 5 on 3 goal scored by Gagner was the first 5 on 3 goal the Coyotes have scored this season.
- Mike Smith stopped 34 of the 38 shots he saw, and none of the four goals were really on him.
- Cam Talbot saved 37 of 40 shots, marking the second game in three nights that the Coyotes outshot their opponent.
- The Coyotes have now lost eight consecutive games. The season high for any NHL team is a 14 game losing streak the Sabres went through in January. The Coyotes are only four points ahead of the Sabres of last place in the NHL.
- Rick Nash played 18:33 after missing New York's last game due to neck spasms. He took only one shot and recorded no points.
The Coyotes finish their East Coast trip against the Boston Bruins Saturday night. Puck drop is at 3:30 PM Arizona time.