GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Goals came in bunches, momentum shifted with seemingly every shift, players traded big hits. The game even went to a shootout.
For the fans at Jobing.com Arena, it was a thrilling end to the last home game of the season.
For the Coyotes, it was a rough ending to what may be their last game in the desert.
Matt Duchene scored in a shootout and had three assists, helping the Avalanche pull out a 5-4 win and sending the Coyotes off to an uncertain future.
“Certainly not the way we intended (to end it),” said Antoine Vermette, who had two goals. “We would rather get the win.”
The Avalanche and Coyotes are both out of the playoffs and played like it in a freewheeling game. Phoenix went up 2-0 early, Colorado answered with a three-goal flurry before the first period was over and the teams traded scores the rest of the way in a wild game that had 18 players earn at least a point.
The Avalanche won it when Duchene slipped a shot between Mike Smith’s legs in the shootout and P.A. Parenteau scored after replacement goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped a pair of shots by the Coyotes.
Parenteau had a goal and an assist before the shootout and Stefan Elliott scored his first goal in nearly two years. Patrick Bordeleau and Ryan O’Reilly also scored for the Avalanche, who finish the season at home against the Wild on Saturday.
“We’ve had some tough outings in this building in the four years I’ve been here, and after the second one goes in, you’re like ‘Oh, no, here we go again,'” Duchene said. “We were able to come back real quick.”
This home finale in the desert ended with the same question as the previous three: Will this be the last game for the Coyotes in Arizona? The franchise has been run by the NHL the past three seasons.
After several starts and stops, the Coyotes appeared to have an owner in place when former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison reached a preliminary agreement with the NHL. He couldn’t meet a deadline with the City of Glendale on a lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena in January, leaving the team in limbo again.
Several suitors have stepped forward, including a pair that submitted proposals to the NHL, but nothing has been finalized.
The Coyotes were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday but put together an impressive performance Wednesday night in a win over the playoff-bound Sharks. They couldn’t back it up with another in their home finale, resorting to the type of inconsistent play that plagued them all season.
“No meaning. Even in an exhibition game, you’re evaluating,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “Here, you’re just playing. That’s what both teams did tonight — just play. It’s good for the fans, lots of action, but as far as a hard, tactical game, I wouldn’t put that one up there in the good books of that one.”
David Schlemko and Rob Klinkhammer each scored and Keith Yandle had
three assists for Phoenix, which had two power-play goals for the first
time since Jan. 24 and the third time all season.
The Coyotes got their home finale off to a great start, scoring just over 3 minutes in when Schlemko skated in from the blue line and sent a wrister past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Vermette made it 2-0 midway through the period, squeezing a shot between Giguere’s legs after a nice drop pass by Yandle.
The Avalanche fought back quickly, scoring three goals in 4 minutes.
Bordeleau got the first by taking a couple of whacks at the puck before sending it past Smith. Parenteau tied it on a power play, scoring on a wrister that seemed to catch Smith off-guard, and Elliott put Colorado up during a 4-on-4 situation a minute later with his first goal since Dec. 29, 2011.
The Coyotes tied it on a power play when Klinkhammer lost the puck but then flicked a centering pass from along the goal line that bounced off Avs defenseman Greg Zanon’s leg and into the goal.
The Avalanche answered with a power-play goal with 33 seconds left in the period, going up 4-3 when O’Reilly skated in alone from the left circle and beat Smith with a wrister.
Vermette tied it in the third on another power-play goal, wheeling around to punch in a rebound after Michael Stone sent a hard shot off the post after it deflected off Giguere, who had to be replaced late in the period by Varlamov after going down on a save.
Despite getting no time to warm up, Varlamov made some big saves in the third period and overtime, then stopped Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata in the shootout to seal the victory.
“It’s a good test of character for these guys, and they responded well,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.
Phoenix ends its season Saturday in Anaheim before heading off to a fourth straight offseason of uncertainty.
NOTES: Coyotes LW Paul Bissonnette had an assist on Schlemko’s goal, his career-best fifth of the season. … Giguere played in his 575th game, matching Ken Wregget for 45th place on the NHL’s list for goalies. … Avalanche D Shane O’Brien received 14 minutes in penalties on one play in the third period, getting 10 on a game misconduct and 2 each on roughing and slashing calls.