Power play suffers power outage in Coyotes’ loss to Stars
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The situation was optimal: tie game, late in the third period, power play on the ice with a chance to extend the Dallas Stars’ misery to eight straight games.
The Coyotes had already rallied to tie the game on a clutch goal from Mikkel Boedker with 3:43 left in regulation — his first goal in his last 12 games. This was the chance to cement the notion that Arizona had turned the corner — a chance to post its fourth win in five games.
So what happened? Nothing short of disaster.
Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt beat Boedker to a loose puck in the Stars’ zone after Antoine Vermette missed the net with a shot. Garbutt skated up ice, flipped the puck off the boards and around flat-footed defenseman Keith Yandle, skated into the Coyotes zone all alone and went to his forehand to beat goalie Mike Smith with 1:16 remaining for a 4-3 win that snapped the Stars’ 0-5-2 skid.
It was the second straight home loss in which the opponent scored the game-winning goal in the final three minutes. The Islanders won 1-0 on Saturday when Frans Nielsen scored with 2:31 left in regulation.
"I was just trying to hold onto it and make sure I cleared it," Garbutt said. "I didn’t have anyone really come to me so I just chipped it to myself and skated as fast as I could."
Yeah. That about sums up the Coyotes’ power play of late. What once was a team strength is now a liability. The Coyotes don’t have a power play goal in their last four games (0-for-18) and they gave up two short-handed breakaways on Tuesday, one of which goalie Mike Smith stopped.
"Probably since you guys all started writing about how good it was, it’s just gone downhill from there," coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought it was poor even before we gave up the shorty, so we’re going to have to look at some stuff, whether we want to change some personnel.
"The power play is on the ice with two minutes to go. That’s your best players on the ice. Are you going to win or you going to lose? I don’t think they thought about losing. It looked like everybody thought they were just going to ice the puck down the ice and we just stood around. That’s frustrating to watch."
So too was the speed at which the Coyotes coughed up a 2-0 lead. Connor Murphy scored on a seemingly harmless wrist shot in the first period and Joe Vitale scored his first goal in nearly a calendar year when he snapped a perfectly placed shot off both posts and past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen midway through the second period.
But Tyler Seguin got the Stars on the board with 2:01 left in the second. After failing on a wraparound attempt, Seguin collected the rebound of defenseman Jordie Benn’s point shot and lifted it past Smith, who was down after making two saves.
With Murphy off for interference on a penalty Tippett termed "a poor call," Seguin scored just 57 seconds later from nearly the same spot from which he scored the first goal to even the game at 2 after two periods and pull him into a tie with the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash for the league-lead in goals (12).
"They really didn’t have much at all until the end of the second period," Tippett said. "If you want to be a playoff team in this league you’d better find ways to put games like that away."
The Coyotes must also find a way to shake off these last two games as they head out on a three-game road trip through western Canada. These are the sorts of losses that can linger.
"We know we have to be a better team and hold onto leads and be able to kind of just forget the past," Murphy said. "Everyone’s just frustrated and we know it’s a quick turnaround."