This was the first and last time the Arizona Coyotes visited the Dallas Stars for the 2015-16 season, and sadly they did so without defensemen Michael Stone and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Despite Arizona having beaten Dallas by convincing margins in two games at home, fate and a bit of puck luck joined Stone and Ekman-Larsson as key ingredients missing from the Coyotes in this game.
After scoring the lone Coyotes' goal for the game, Martin Hanzal spent the entirety of the second and third periods in the locker room with a mystery condition. Furthermore, Eric Selleck sustained an upper body injury midway through the third period during a fight and did not finish the match.
The Coyotes did not play poorly against the Stars, but they did not play well either. They were kind of 'just' there, some sort of obscure nuisance that prevented Dallas from taking the two points without any effort.
1-0 Arizona: After Max Domi forced a turnover in favor of the Coyotes in their own defensive end, Martin Hanzal collected the puck and left the zone before passing to the ever-speedy Anthony Duclair. Duclair, who was pivoting from backwards to forwards as he received the puck, entered the zone protecting the puck before deking around his opponent. He then head to the net and dished the puck off to Max Domi who was now waiting on the opposite side of the goal. Domi drew another defender as well as goalie Antti Niemi before completing the tic-tac-toe play by feeding the puck back to Hanzal at the top of the goal crease who was able to hit the puck home into a wide empty net. The goal took Hanzal's point total for the season to 41 which is a career high for the big Czech. Assists to Max Domi and Anthony Duclair at 17:07.
1-1 Tied: Only 58 seconds after Hanzal's goal, Dallas hit the scoreboard. With Kevin Connauton caught up ice trying to pinch the puck, Zbynek Michalek was left alone to defend a two on one rush for the Stars. Unfortunately Michalek blew a tire as he tried to keep up with the speedy Stars' forwards and Dallas saw their chance to pounce. Though Michalek was able to get back up and get back down to try and block the shot, Patrick Eaves found a way on a tight angle shot to slip the puck past Michalek, past Smith and finally bounce the puck off the far post and in to tie up the game. Assists to Colton Sceviour and John Klingberg at 18:05.
2-1 Dallas: Off the opening face-off of the second period, the Coyotes decided to try the Edmonton Oilers's style of defense and have multiple players be drawn to the same opposition player through puck watching.
Poor coverage by all Coyotes' players and a sprawling Mike Smith enabled Radek Faksa to sneak in and slot a straight forward goal while the Coyotes were too busy chasing the perceived threat of Antoine Roussel. Assists to Ales Hemsky and Antoine Roussel at 0:11.
3-1 Dallas: After a Brad Richardson turnover in the Coyotes' defensive zone, Jamie Benn picked up the puck and with just a little bit too much time allowed by the Coyotes, he was able to power the puck past Smith and into the back of the net. Smith got a bit of the shot, but Benn's shot was too powerful as the puck continued forward through Smith's arms for Benn's 40th goal of the season. Assist to Ales Hemsky at 10:43.
4-1 Dallas: The Coyotes made a mess of their empty net situation, receiving a too many men on the ice penalty when both Smith and the sixth skater stayed on the ice. Now down a man on the penalty kill, the Coyotes pulled Smith again to continue trying to score at even strength. What ensued was at best, an awkward five on five with an empty net for Arizona. Patrick Sharp scored an easy empty net goal after the Stars regained possession and entered the offensive zone. He was assisted by John Klingberg and Jamie Benn at 18:49.
|Arizona Coyotes||Dallas Stars|
|First Period Shots||8||11|
|Second Period Shots||13||10|
|Third Period Shots||10||12|
- For the Dallas perspective, check out Defending Big D.
Some bad news early in the night for the Coyotes with Sarah McLellan declaring:
Ekman-Larsson not on the for warm-up.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) April 1, 2016
- The Coyotes and McLellan later revealed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day-to-day with an illness.
- After recently being recalled from the AHL, Eric Selleck suited up to make his Arizona Coyotes debut and play his 3rd career NHL match. He begun the night playing alongside Boyd Gordon and Kyle Chipchura on the 4th line.
- Alex Grant also suited up to make his Arizona Coyotes debut as well as play his 3rd NHL match.
- As a result of the Michael Stone injury and the Oliver Ekman-Larsson illness, the Coyotes did a bit of shuffling on their blue line. Connor Murphy would start with Nicklas Grossmann, Kevin Connauton would play with Zbynek Michalek and Klas Dahlbeck would play with Alex Grant.
- While Oliver Ekman-Larsson missed the game, the Coyotes had some good news pre-game with Shane Doan returning to the ice to play against Dallas after missing Arizona's last game due to an injury sustained against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Viktor Tikhonov, Jiri Sekac and Sergei Plotnikov sat in the press-box for the night as healthy scratches.
- After finishing the first period, Martin Hanzal was not on the bench for the start of the second period and did not return for the remainder of the night:
#Coyotes announce Hanzal has an upper-body injury and won't return.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) April 1, 2016
- Alex Grant finished his return to NHL hockey with a fight, two shots on goal, one hit, a neutral +/- and 14:08 time on ice.
- Eric Selleck, not to be outdone by Grant, finished his return to NHL hockey with a fight, one shot on goal, two hits, a neutral +/- and 9:35 time on ice. Unfortunately Selleck appeared to sustain an upper body injury during his fight in the third period and spent the remainder of the game in the locker room instead of going to the penalty box.
- Though it has seemed unlikely for several weeks, it is now official:
FYI: With tonight's loss #Coyotes are officially eliminated from contention for Stanley Cup Playoffs.— Dave Vest (@davest4yotes) April 1, 2016
The Coyotes will now return home for the final time in the 2015-2016 season as they take on the best in the East, the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is at 7:00pm local Arizona time at Gila River Arena and the game can also be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona.
This is the Coyotes' last home game of the season so get on down to thank the players and to be thanked by the players for what has been a pretty successful development season for Arizona. The Coyotes will then round out the season with their final four games on the road.