Following Friday night’s road blowout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Arizona Coyotes entered T-Mobile Arena in hopes of leaving Las Vegas with a win prior to tomorrow’s showdown with the red hot Colorado Avalanche.
Down a point in the Western Division standings to the St. Louis Blues, a win would be paramount for the Desert Dogs to maintain ground in the late-season playoff hunt.
The action was seen early on Sunday afternoon, with Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague taking an early high-sticking minor just under a minute into the game. The Arizona Coyotes rank 20th in the National Hockey League in power play goals, and this early power play opportunity was an example of why.
Arizona’s Conor Garland had an in-close opportunity against Golden Knights goaltender Marc-André Fleury halfway through the man advantage, but a lay down save by Fleury stopped the Coyotes from establishing an early 1-0 lead. This shot was the only real chance at a goal during the power play.
Fleury has allowed 16 goals over the last five games for Vegas, and it was apparent early on that the Yotes wanted to take full advantage of his less-than-stellar performance in net. However, the Golden Knights would make it difficult for the Coyotes to register shots on goal to start.
Arizona had the momentum early in the period, but that was halted halfway through following a barrage of quality shots on net for the Knights. The extended pressure would result in defenseman Jason Demers taking a two-minute minor tripping penalty.
Although the penalty placed pressure on the Coyote defense, Arizona goaltender Adin Hill was fortunate that luck was on his side. The lone power play shot on goal for the Knights clanged off the post and prevented Vegas from grabbing a lead during their man advantage.
With 7:25 remaining in the period, Ryan Reaves caught Yotes Jordan Gross looking in the wrong direction and punished him with a hit that left Arizona Head Coach Rick Tocchet clamoring for an elbowing penalty to be called.
Although the replay shows a questionable hit, no penalty was called. Some individuals watching the game took to the internet to voice their displeasure of not only the non-call, but also the lack of physical response by Arizona after Gross was sent to the locker room for examination following the hit.
Not all players were physically silent, however, as Ilya Lyubushkin and Michael Bunting took it upon themselves to step up their physical games and defend their fallen teammate.
The increasing tempers would be the talking point for the rest of the first period. Few scoring opportunities remained on either side for the remainder of the period, and the score was 0-0 going into the first intermission.
Gross would not re-enter the game and would finish his night with 3:18 of time on ice.
First Intermission Stat Line:
Shots on Goal (SOG): ARI-6 VGK-9
Face-off Wins: ARI-2 VGK-10
Hits: ARI-16 VGK-13
Just under two minutes into the second period, Coyotes’ defenseman Alex Goligoski got his share of heartbreak. His shot beat Marc-André Fleury, but could not beat the post.
The invincible iron surrounding the net was not to be defeated by either side in Sunday’s match-up, as multiple shots would be denied throughout the remainder of the game by way of post deflections.
Michael Bunting continued to be a pest to the Vegas roster in the second period. Bunting is proving that his call-up from the Tuscon Roadrunners was a great decision by the front office. He has scored five goals and tallied one assist in his six games with the Coyotes, and has been near the top of the list for ice time among the Desert Dog forwards in recent games. His energy bolstered the team play for Arizona early in the period, and the results were obvious.
The Yotes found opportunities early to achieve a larger advantage in hits during the second period. This physical play made up for the lack of shots that the Coyotes generated on net.
Additionally, the physical help assisted Adin Hill in his ability to make saves as Vegas struggled to find quality scoring chances while also trying to evade physical play from the Yotes. After a fairly uneventful period on the score sheet, the score remained 0-0 after two.
Although neither team had a true advantage going into the final twenty minutes of the game, a single stat would not only be concerning for Coyotes fans but would also be a large part of the third-period demise of the Desert Dogs.
Second Intermission Stat Line:
Shots on Goal (SOG): ARI-11 VGK-25
Face-off Wins: ARI-10 VGK-19
Hits: ARI-30 VGK-18
Unlike the first two periods, the third period lacked early action.
The largest bit of concern came early after Arizona Defenseman Jakob Chychrun took a slap shot off the right ankle while blocking a shot. Chychrun would be seen shortly after grimacing on the Coyotes bench, a bad sign for an already depleted defensive group after Jordan Gross’ injury in the first period.
Minutes later, a shoving match between Michael Bunting and winger William Carrier resulted in matching 2-minute minor penalty for roughing with 12:15 left in the game.
No goals were scored during 4-on-4 play following the call, but that didn’t stop Vegas from seizing an opportunity on a line change mistake by Arizona directly after the teams returned to full strength.
Arizona was caught in a bad attempt at a line change and turned the puck over in the Vegas offensive zone due to a failed puck clearing attempt in the corner. Vegas left winger Jonathan Marchessault would find his teammate Tomáš with a cross-ice pass that would lead to the first goal of the game after 50:38 seconds of play.
This would mark the seventh goal of the season for Nosek. At the time of the goal, Vegas had a lead in shots on goal of 27-12 for the game.
Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” By that logic, the Coyotes missed a lot.
After finding the post yet again with 7:40 left in the game, the Coyotes would not place many more shots on net until Derick Brassard registered a shot-on-net with 2:30 left. This was another easy save for Fleury as he did not seem to face many difficult shots after the first period.
Following the save, the referees arguably missed a game-changing penalty when the Golden Knights’ Brayden McNabb was not called for slashing after the play was over.
But it’s hard to imagine that this missed call would have changed much in terms of the final score based on the shooting performance for Arizona on the power play.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know what could have been as play continued as normal.
Shortly following the missed slashing call, Conor Garland missed on a last-minute scoring opportunity and then was called for a clipping penalty after up-ending Vegas captain Mark Stone against the boards.
This hit would cause a bit of tension between the two sides that’ll be remembered for match-ups to come.
After only seven combined shots on net between the teams in the final period the final buzzer sounded, and the Coyotes would go to the locker room after losing 1-0 for their third straight loss.
Final Stat Line:
Shots on Goal (SOG): ARI-14 VGK-29
Face-off Wins: ARI-17 VGK-32
Hits: ARI-38 VGK-29
Three Stars of the game:
Third Star: Jonathan Marchessault LW (VGK)
Second Star: Marc-André Fleury G (VGK)
First Star: Tomáš Nosek C (VGK)
- It’s hard to only lose by one goal after being doubled up on the scoreboard in shots on goal. If there is positive credit to be given for the result of the 1-0 loss, it has to go to Adin Hill. Hill has played excellent in most of the recent games he has played in, and it begs the question of why he did not see much time in the goal tending rotation for Arizona until after Kuemper and Raanta went down with injuries.
- In order to make progress in the standings for the rest of the season, as well as years to come, Airzona has to improve in two major categories: shots on goal and face-off win percentage, where Arizona currently ranks 31st and 26th in the NHL respectively. You can’t win if you can’t shoot, and you can’t shoot if you don’t have the puck. This need has to be addressed at the trade deadline and the upcoming draft if the Yotes hope to have any success in the near future.
- With the trade deadline rapidly approaching in a matter of hours, a decision has to be made as whether the team is in the “Buyers” market or the “Sellers” market. If the front office hopes to make a playoff run, activity on the trade block has to be made quickly. Otherwise, the best option may be to sell some of the guys currently on the roster and collect draft picks for this year’s draft.
If you were the GM for the Arizona Coyotes, what would your approach be to the upcoming Trade Deadline?
This poll is closed
Maintain the Status Quo
The Arizona Coyotes next play the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, at 6:00 pm Arizona time.