Tonight was Radim Vrbata’s night, as the Arizona Coyotes recognized his 1,000th career game in the NHL. It would have been fitting for Vrbata to tally a point or a signature shootout goal.
Unfortunately for Vrbata and the Coyotes, neither happened, as Arizona was unable to score on four power play opportunities and ultimately fell 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators shortly after overtime began on Thursday evening.
Arizona had a couple of decent looks in the first period, but second-string goaltender Mike Condon was on form early for the Senators, and the game was scoreless through 20 minutes.
1-0 Arizona - Brendan Perlini broke the scoreless tie on a sizzling wrist-shot from the near-side that Marc Methot could not get in front of. The puck did not change direction, but Methot’s effort may have distracted Condon just enough to let the puck get through. Assists to Tobias Rieder and Jordan Martinook on the goal at 11:30.
1-1 Tie - Less than a minute later, the Senators evened the score up after Fredrik Claesson’s point shot was stopped by Mike Smith. Smith couldn’t corral the rebound, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau swooped in completely uncovered from below the red-line to put home the rebound. Assists to Claesson and Erik Karlsson on the goal at 12:11.
2-1 Arizona - Once again this season, Lawson Crouse’s frame and wingspan paid dividends, as the grinder was able to swiftly wrap a puck around the back of the net and push the puck just past Condon’s leg and in. The puck didn’t make it in far, but it made it completely over the line before being cleared, and that’s all that matters. Assist to Josh Jooris on the goal at 17:49.
2-2 Tie - Erik Karlsson demonstrated why he is one of the league’s great defenseman by being in the right place at the right time to bang home a loose puck in the crease. Jean-Gabriel Pageau caused enough chaos in front to allow Karlsson to slide into the far-side faceoff circle unmarked and put home an easy rebound. Assist to Pageau on the goal at 12:47.
3-2 Ottawa - The season of frustration for Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues, as he lost the handle on a puck in the offensive zone and was unable to recover. Erik Karlsson made easy pickings of his fellow countryman’s mistake, and looked like a forward as he carried the puck into the Coyotes’ zone unchallenged and roofed the game-winner over Smith. No assists on the overtime goal at :40.
- Can the Coyotes create their own goals? - Perlini and Crouse did a great job creating opportunities for themselves on their goals, but Arizona’s power play once again failed to deliver when needed.
- Which Swede will reign supreme? - Karlsson had a spectacular night for Ottawa, and the last play of the game was emblematic of the way both players’ seasons have gone.ht for Ot
- Will Turris take over? - Turris’ finger was still not fully healed, and so he did not play in tonight’s game. One suspects he was not wandering among the crowd during the game either.
Players of the Game
Ottawa - Erik Karlsson - Karlsson was a part of all three Ottawa goals on the night, with a pair of goals and a secondary assist. He also took six shots, blocked two more, and played nearly 30 minutes.
Arizona - Radim Vrbata - Vrbata tied Jordan Martinook for most shots on net among Coyotes players with four. He deserved a better fate tonight, but getting to 1,000 games played in the NHL is special no matter what.
- For more on the Ottawa Senators, check out Silver Seven
- With Alexander Burmistrov and Kevin Connauton still unavailable due to injuries, Teemu Pulkkinen was the odd-man out for Arizona tonight.
- Chris DiDomenico made his NHL debut for the Senators at the tender age of 28. A 2007 sixth-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, DiDomenico battled back from a broken femur in 2009 to make it all the way to the big leagues. Kudos to you sir.
- Perlini’s goal was his first since February 16th in Los Angeles, while Crouse’s goal was his first since January 26th versus Vancouver.
- Guy Boucher has squared off against the Coyotes five times in his coaching career. He has never lost.
Arizona next wraps up its season series against New Jersey by welcoming the Devils to Glendale on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 6 PM Arizona time.