The Arizona Coyotes have lost a lot of games this season, and they will lose a lot more before the season is finished. But even with all the losses, last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers was one of the more frustrating ones.
Things started well enough. The Coyotes looked engaged to start the game and had a few good looks. Loui Eriksson almost got the Coyotes on the board early on, but further review of the play showed the puck didn’t cross the goal line fully. The Coyotes were centimeters away from taking an early lead, but the score remained tied for the time being.
Arizona did manage to score the game’s first goal late in the first period. Arizona’s first power play had been cut short with a Travis Boyd hooking call, and the Coyotes were short-handed.
Clayton Keller had the puck at the Rangers’ blue line and found a streaking Loui Eriksson, who put it home.
King Loui said it's a... GOAL! pic.twitter.com/Lo4v7dcw7d— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) December 16, 2021
It was the Coyotes’ first short-handed goal of the season, and it was a big one. Thanks to some solid hockey and a timely goal, the Coyotes went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Coyotes have been especially bad in the second period, so it was good to see the Desert Dogs have a decent middle frame. Unfortunately, the Rangers tied things up when Kaapo Kakko knocked a rebound home past Scott Wedgewood to tie things up.
But other than that brief lapse, the Coyotes were doing good. It was going to come down to the third period, which the Coyote would start on the power play thanks to a late high-sticking call on Jacob Trouba.
The Coyotes had a few good looks on the power play, but they failed to regain the lead. Nevertheless, it gave them some momentum, and eventually, it paid off. Midway through the period, Clayton Keller picked up a pass from Nick Schmaltz and went hard to the net.
Keller went forehand, backhand into the front of the net to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. Keller had been heavily involved in the game, giving him his fifth multi-point game of the season.
The Coyotes would start to get sloppy, and with less than seven minutes left, Phil Kessel would get sent to the box for interference. The resulting power play saw Mika Zibanejad fire the puck through traffic from the faceoff circle and tie the game up.
After that, the referees seemed to put the whistles away, and both teams got away with some blatant penalties. But the whistles away mentality has its limits, and the Coyotes found it. With 2:59 left in regulation, the Coyotes were called for too many men on the ice, a lazy penalty they shouldn’t have taken.
And that is when the game became genuinely heartbreaking. Liam O’Brien was serving the bench minor when Chris Kreider sent the puck towards the net. Kaapo Kakko was waiting to pick up any rebounds and put it past Wedgewood to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
The game would eventually end with some pushing and shoving, and Phil Kessel and Ryan Lindgren were both assessed roughing minors. It was a frustrating loss, and you could see things start to boil over.
There were so many issues with the game, but penalties were the biggest factor. The late interference and too many men penalties were turning points for the Rangers, who have a top 10 power play. Unfortunately, the Coyotes continue to take ill-timed penalties, and not coincidentally, they keep losing games.
- Kaapo Kakko - 2 goals
- Clayton Keller - Goal and an assist
- Loui Eriksson - Short-handed goal
The Coyotes are back on the road, and they will face the Anaheim Ducks this Friday at 8:00 pm Arizona time.