The Arizona Coyotes played well for stretches of this game. There just weren't enough stretches.
Despite Oliver Ekman-Larsson's two goal night, the Arizona Coyotes were defeated 5-2 by the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night at Gila River Arena.
Tonight's game actually began on a high note; Arizona put on some sustained offensive zone pressure, and at 3:24 of the first, Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring on a nice feed from Sam Gagner. The even-strength goal was the first Arizona scored since Shane Doan's goal against New Jersey at 6:06 of the third period.
Unfortunately, the 2014-15 Arizona Coyotes have not been able to hold onto leads for long, and this game was no exception. Ryan O'Reilly tied the game at 8:15 of the period after O'Reilly's initial shot was not covered by Louis Domingue. The puck somehow managed to find its way through his pads and into the net.
Just 29 seconds later, Jarome Iginla made sure that the next goal Colorado scored would be uncontroversial. He broke in with Matt Duchene on a 2 on 1, and rifled a shot to Domingue's glove side to give the Avs a 2-1 lead at 8:44. Despite a Coyotes' penalty late in the first, there would be no further scoring in the opening frame.
Defensive miscues would continue to hurt the Coyotes in the second. Arizona was unable to get the puck out of the defensive zone for long stretches of time, and at 8:09 of the second, Freddie Hamilton tipped in a Brad Stuart point shot to give Colorado a 3-1 lead. After 40 minutes, it looked like the Coyotes were going to go down to defeat once again in easy fashion.
But Arizona showed signs of life in the third. They generated sustained pressure on offense during their lone power play of the game, and seemed to score a goal when the puck went in off the skate of Joe Vitale. After an official review however, the Situation Room in Toronto determined that the puck had been illegally kicked in, and the goal was waved off.
As Arizona played on, OEL came up big once again for the Desert Dogs. He corralled a rebound off the stick of Lauri Korpikoski and banked a shot behind Semyon Varlamov, through the crease, and off of a Colorado defender. The NHL would again review the play to make sure it crossed the line, and at 11:53 of the third, the goal was made official. Arizona was down by only one at this point.
The comeback for the Coyotes would last all of 2:58, as Matt Duchene scored a pivotal fourth goal for the Avalanche at 14:51. Gabriel Landeskog would add an empty-netter at 19:47, and the Coyotes' winless streak extended to six in a row.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Semyon Varlamov - The Avs' goaltender made 27 saves on 29 shots for Colorado in a game they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
2nd Star: Oliver Ekman-Larsson - The Swede had two goals on the night, both of which came after impressive offensive displays. He has legitimate two-way skill.
1st Star: Jarome Iginla - Colorado's point leader added a devastating tally early in the first to keep the Coyotes trailing the rest of the way. He has very quietly enjoyed a solid season.
- For Colorado's perspective, check out Mile High Hockey.
- Ekman-Larsson now has 19 goals on the season. The next closest player still on the team? Mikkel Boedker with 14.
- Martin Erat was injured during the game and did not return. He is now considered day-to-day.
- 11 different Colorado players recorded points on the night.
- Louis Domingue made 24 saves on 28 shots tonight. His rebound control and ability to freeze the puck was deficient in stretches during this game.
- Attendance: 11,684.
Arizona plays again Saturday night, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins for the only time at Gila River Arena this season. Puck drop is at 6 PM Arizona time.