The Coyotes were hoping to end a seven game losing streak against the team they last beat in the place they last won. Spoiler alert, it didn't happen.
Things started bad right from the get go, with Arizona allowing the Vancouver Canucks to take control from the opening face-off. Vancouver started the game outshooting Arizona 10-1 in the opening ten minutes. Thankfully for the Coyotes faithful in Gila River Arena, Mike Smith kept the Coyotes in the game, stopping all 10.
Arizona displayed poor defensive coverage all game. Whether it was from playing the second game of a back to back or the unusual 5 PM start time, the Coyotes were not good in their own end. It caught up to them with a little more than five minutes left in the first period. Daniel Sedin entered the Coyote zone running a little two man game with Radim Vrbata. Sedin got the puck back and drove toward the net before finding Yannick Weber crashing down from the blueline. No Coyote picked up the trailer and Weber beat Smith clean to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn't last long thanks to an amazing individual effort from Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
To call it Herculean may be hyperbole, but not by much. OEL's goal was his 20th on the season, far and away the most on the Coyotes. That would be about it for the positives that Arizona's offense would take from this game.
The second period was scoreless, no thanks to the Yotes continued desire to not defend a soul. Vancouver had three to four quality odd man rushes over the second 20 minutes that were turned away by Smith. The apathetic approach to defense continued in the third, including an awful sequence where the Coyotes turned the puck over after winning a defensive zone face-off that led to a Vancouver two-on-none in front of Smith. Yes, somehow the Coyotes turned a face-off win into a two-on-nothing in a matter of seconds. It was so disastrous, it bordered on high art. But, Mike Smith once again rose to the occasion and stopped Vancouver's golden chance at the lead.
It appeared the Coyotes would actually manage to salvage a point because of Smith's heroics, but a Joe Vitale tripping call at 15:03 put the Canucks on a late power play. Arizona almost killed the disadvantage, but a point shot from Alexander Edler somehow found it's way through Smith and over the goalline with a little over three minutes left.
Henrik Sedin would add an empty net goal to seal the deal in a 3-1 victory for the Canucks. Arizona probably deserved a better fate in Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, but they should have lost tonight's game in a landslide. The Coyotes' season may be in a downward spiral, but Mike Smith's game is not.
- For the Vancouver perspective, check out Nucks Misconduct.
- The Canucks outshot Arizona 44-27.
- Smith stopped 41 of 43 shots faced. In March, he has a 2.14 GAA and a .939 SV%. And a 1-6-0 record.
- Shane Doan played over 20 minutes and was credited with seven hits. Unfortunately, he was on the ice for both Vancouver even strength goals.
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 of 27 shots, mostly easy saves.
- The Coyotes had a big night in the face-off circles, winning 38 of 64 (59%) draws. Craig Cunningham won 6 of 8 and Mark Arcobello won 15 of 20 to both win 75% of their face-offs.
- Arizona has now lost eight in a row and 18 of 19. They have scored one goal or less in eight of their ten games in March. Since February 1st, they have 33 goals in 24 games, good for 1.375 goals per game.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Mike Smith. Had a tremendous game to keep things close. This should have been a blowout and Smith kept the Coyotes sniffing for a point.
- Daniel Sedin. Had the primary assist on the first Canuck goal and added another on the empty netter.
- Radim Vrbata. Two assists and four shots on goal. Not quite as impressive a game as he had in his earlier return to Glendale, but Arizona had no answer for the Canucks' top unit all night.
The Coyotes return to the road after a winless home stand for a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.