Coyotes done in by bad breaks against Avalanche

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It wasn’t a product of four days off. Thursday just wasn’t the Coyotes’ night.
They had two third-period goals disallowed. They were whistled for two late penalties that forced them to play shorthanded for most of overtime. And they outshot the Avalanche 44-30 yet led for only 2 minutes and 40 seconds in a 4-3 loss at Arena.
Ryan O’Reilly ripped a shot from the left circle with 42 seconds left in overtime to hand the Coyotes just their second loss on home ice (9-0-2) this season, both of them coming in extra time, where they still earned a point.
The goal was the Avs’ second power-play tally in five tries against the Coyotes’ struggling penalty-killing unit, which has dropped to 25th in the NHL at 77.4 percent.
“That was a strange way to finish the game, putting ourselves 4-on-3 twice,” center Antoine Vermette said. “That’s something we’d maybe want to take back.”
Whether Phoenix should have been in that situation is another matter. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett agreed with the slashing call that sent Keith Yandle to the box and set up O’Reilly’s winner. But multiple power plays can create momentum for a team, and the Avalanche may have been granted a gift when Martin Hanzal was whistled for charging with 28 seconds left in the third period on what looked like a clean, hard hit on replays.
“I think Hanzal gets penalties cause he’s a great, big guy,” Tippett said. “If that’s a penalty, there will be no hitting soon.”
Tippett had expressed some concern that a four-day layoff might hurt his team’s momentum, but there was no sign of that when the Coyotes took the ice. They dominated in offensive zone time, although they didn’t manage many scoring chances in either of the first two periods.
Colorado looked like it would take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission before Michael Stone scored his seventh goal of the season on a slapshot from outside the the Avalanche blue line that caromed off Semyon Varlamov’s pad, moving Stone into a tie with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for the league lead for goals by a defenseman.
The third period was almost all Phoenix. Mikkel Boedker pushed home a rebound from under Varlamov’s pad, but the officials rules that the whistle had already blown. Minutes later, Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s goal from the top of the circle was waved off when David Moss was pushed into Varlamov and called for goalie interference.
Hanzal finally got the equalizer on a goal-mouth scramble, and Vermette gave the Coyotes a brief lead when a puck squirted to him in front with the right side of the net open.
But Cody McLeod tied it with 3:14 to play in regulation, ensuring that Colorado would not lose for the first time this season when scoring first (14-0).
“This is a very good team; it’s probably one of the best in the NHL,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said of the Coyotes. “This is a big win for us.”
How much did the loss mean for the Coyotes in the wacky Western Conference? When the night started, they had a chance to move into the top spot in the NHL if they’d won and other results had played out right. Instead, they ended up in sixth.
“You’re playing these teams all the time and you’re right there in the standings with them,” Tippett said. “You’re conscious of where they are, and I’m sure they’re conscious of where we are. You’re just battling to stay in the fight.”
The Coyotes will get another chance to play leapfrog when Anaheim visits on Saturday. The Ducks are tied with the Sharks at 33 points atop the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Coyotes and Kings.