The Phoenix Coyotes limited Colorado to one shot in the entire third period. That was, it turns out, one too many.
Ryan O’Reilly tied it with a goal on that shot late in regulation, then had the only score in the shootout to give the lowly Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Coyotes on Friday night.
”Good for the kid,” coach Joe Sacco said. ”He’s been playing very well lately. He’s made good progress in his game the last month or so.”
Shane Doan had a power-play goal and assist as the Coyotes rallied from a two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but O’Reilly’s goal sent the game into overtime.
”They had one shot in the third period – that was it,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, who refused to be too upset with the loss. ”We’ve had some good bounces the other way here in a few of these games against non-playoff teams so they got the bounce tonight.”
Philippe Dupuis and Jay McClement also scored for the Avalanche in their third victory in the last 17 games, all three in shootouts.
”We pulled it out somehow,” O’Reilly said.
Colorado is 6-1 in shootouts this season.
”I think it was a pretty good effort,” McClement said, ”probably our best effort throughout a game in a long time.”
Lee Stempniak and Ray Whitney also scored for Phoenix in front 15,739 on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s ”bobblehead” night.
The Coyotes got one point to pull two ahead of idle Los Angeles and Nashville for the No. 4 playoff spot in the West, but it was a disappointing performance, especially against a weak Colorado team that Phoenix had beaten three times.
”We weren’t good enough in the first period but we got better,” Doan said. ”We should have won that one and we should have won that one in regulation.”
Phoenix outshot Colorado 16-1 in the third period, but that one shot was an Avalanche goal by O’Reilly that tied it at 3-3 with 4:31 remaining.
Doan’s power-play goal on a one-timer from his knee at the top of the circle had capped a Coyotes rally that put Phoenix ahead 3-2 with 7:37 left in regulation.
Down 2-0, the Coyotes finally came to life on Stempniak’s unassisted goal. The right wing forced his way down the ice and scored from close range, his 18th goal of the season, to cut the Avalanche lead to 2-1 with 3:31 to go in the second.
Phoenix finished the second period with a flurry of action in front of the Colorado net, all to no avail, including Whitney’s blast that bounced off the crossbar.
The Coyotes kept up the assault early in the third period, tying it at 2-2 on consecutive shots by Doan, Eric Belanger and Whitney. Colorado goalie Peter Budaj, who had 35 saves, deflected the first two but, sprawling in front of the net, couldn’t stop Whitney from his 16th goal of the season.
The Avalanche had played the previous night, but they were the fresher looking team from the start.
Colorado’s first score came with 24 seconds left in the first period when Dupuis took a pass from McClement and poked the puck to the left of Bryzgalov and into the net.
McClement made it 2-0 with a wrist shot 7:16 into the second period.
Phoenix failed in its attempt to sweep the season series for the first time since 1990-91, when the Coyotes were the Winnipeg Jets and the Avalanche were the Quebec Nordiques.
A victory in regulation or overtime would have given Phoenix a chance to clinch a playoff spot if Dallas loses in regulation Saturday. Now, the Coyotes, with just three games to play, will have to wait.
NOTES: Phoenix left wing Taylor Pyatt missed the game with what was described as a minor upper-body injury. … Colorado set a franchise record with 420 man-games lost because of injury. No Avalanche player will appear in all 82 games. … Phoenix doesn’t play again until Wednesday night in Los Angeles.