‘Demoralizing’ loss caps disastrous week for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. — There are bad weeks at the office and there are train wrecks that plunge off a 1,000-foot-high suspension bridge.

To recap the Coyotes’ week — one that followed a five-point, three-game Eastern road trip — they lost two shootouts at home to non-playoff teams (the Jets and Oilers), blew a chance to move into seventh place against the Wild and got routed by the one certain playoff team (the Kings) they played, severely damaging their postseason hopes.

"We got a couple points, but we need to get some more here to get in," defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. "We need everybody to dig in."  

The lasting image of Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Oilers at Jobing.com Arena will be goalie Thomas Greiss’ mishandling of the puck behind the net that allowed Sam Gagner to tie the score with 40.4 seconds left in regulation.

Greiss was there to dutifully face the music after the game, and he offered this assessment of the play.

"It just bounced right off my skates and was a bad mishandling for a turnover," Greiss said. "It was a costly one for us."

Oilers 3, Coyotes 2 (SO)

There’s no arguing that statement, but just as costly as Greiss’ mistake were another sluggish start and the continued scoring drought of the team’s six highest-paid forwards.

We don’t intend to keep a running, daily tally, but center Martin Hanzal (who left the game with a lower-body injury) hasn’t scored since returning from an injury on March 15 (12 straight games overall), center Mike Ribeiro has one goal in his last 21 games, Radim Vrbata has one goal in his last 13 games, Shane Doan has two in his last 15 games, center Antoine Vermette has two in his last 16 games and Martin Erat, a trade-deadline acquisition, has one goal in 13 games with Phoenix.

"It’s a struggle, because we’re not getting many chances from those guys either," coach Dave Tippett said. "We’re not getting many power plays right now, where they were getting their points. That’s an area that we have to continue to address, and we have to try to squeeze more out of those guys."

It may not matter if the Stars come to their senses and finally put the Coyotes out of their misery. Friday’s loss gave Phoenix a one-point lead over Dallas for eighth place in the Western Conference, but the Stars have two games in hand that they will make up this weekend with road games at Tampa and Florida.

If the Stars manage only a split or worse, the Coyotes will still have a fair shot of earning the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot when they return to action Tuesday in Columbus. If Dallas wins both, well, this disappointing first season under new ownership for Phoenix will be close to scribing its epitaph.