GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s a numbers game for the Coyotes now. Due to another blown lead and a continued dearth of scoring, the numbers got a lot tougher Saturday at Jobing.com Arena.
Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored goals in a 4:54 span of the third period for the Wild, who just might have saved their season with a 3-1 win over the Coyotes that altered the ever-changing landscape of the Western Conference playoff race.
"It stings," Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker said. "That’s what it does right now."
Phoenix knew the deal coming in. Minnesota held a one-point lead for seventh place in the Western Conference but was reeling, having won just three times in its last 12 games.
"We would have been in a pretty tough spot had we lost this game," Parise admitted.
Instead, that distinction now belongs to the Coyotes, who trail the Wild by three points and lost the season series 2-1. Phoenix leads Dallas, which has a game in hand, by just one point for eighth after the Stars won Saturday in St. Louis.
It’s like a playoff series. You’ve got to forget the one you just played and move on, whether you won or lost it.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett
"It’s going to be like that," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "That’s why you never get too high right now and you can’t get too low.
"It’s like a playoff series. You’ve got to forget the one you just played and move on, whether you won or lost it."
Boedker put the Coyotes on the board by redirecting Shane Doan’s pass past former Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov just 3:16 into the game on a power play. But the Coyotes did nothing with three subsequent power plays against a club that had allowed 12 power-play goals in opponents’ previous 32 chances.
Boedker also missed a golden opportunity in 5-on-5 play when his point-bank chance from the deep slot rang off the post.
"You get that next one and you push the game along a little bit," Tippett said. "It was a tight game. There were some plays you’d like to see get made or chances you’d like to see get capitalized."
Tippett also would’ve liked to have seen his team sustain a little more offensive pressure. Officially, the Coyotes went nearly 25 minutes (24:28) without a shot between the second and third periods, although Doan seemed unusually miffed about that statistic in the frustrating aftermath of this loss.
"The guy running that score clock, I mean, come on. He’s got to be a little better than that," Doan said. "I understand we didn’t have a lot of shots, but we really don’t take too much consideration into what he does, because sometimes it’s pretty questionable. It wasn’t that long between shots. The guy just doesn’t keep track very well."
Here are some numbers the team and fans will definitely track. There are seven games left in the season, and with Saturday’s loss, the Coyotes’ chances of making the postseason dropped 25.7 percentage points to 51.9 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.
The Coyotes still believe they will get injured goalie Mike Smith back before the regular season ends, but Tippett said Saturday that Smith won’t even be re-evaluated for another week. That means Phoenix will have to ride backup Thomas Greiss for at least three more games — and find a way to score more than one goal in a critical game.
"That’s not how we do it around here, and obviously this was a good opportunity for us to jump up to seventh, but that’s the way it goes," Boedker said. "The good things is we have a game again on Tuesday, so we’ll get back at it."