Mistakes, missed opportunities cost Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The circumstances were far from ideal for the Coyotes on Thursday night. It was the second game of a back-to-back, the first of which was a bad loss in Anaheim the night before. If that wasn't enough, they were greeted at home by a well-rested Detroit Red Wings team.
Oddly enough, the game was more than winnable even after center Daymond Langkow was knocked out of the game in the first period when he was hit in the face by a puck. Ultimately, though, it was a series of mistakes and missed opportunities that cost the Coyotes a crucial home game, as they lost 3-2 in a shootout.
"It's no secret we haven’t had a lot of success lately," Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura said. "It's games like this we've got to find a way to win."
The most noticeable black eye for the Coyotes came in the form of penalties, of which there were five. That's not a highly unusual number for your typical game, but three came for having too many men on the ice, something Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said he's never seen before.
"Obviously, we need to clean that up," said center Gilbert Brule, who scored his second goal of the year late in the second period to tie the score at 2-2. "Sometimes it's just miscommunication, and that happens, but obviously, next game that's not going to happen again."
Tippett said after the game that the first of those penalties couldn't be avoided, as Langkow was trying to get off the ice after taking a puck to the face. Langkow had his hands on his face as he attempted to exit, but his replacement got on the ice first.
Tippett argued that common sense needed to be utilized in such a situation, and perhaps a referee should have blown a whistle. It wasn't like the Coyotes had two men playing. But the other two penalties, Tippett said, were pure mistakes that shouldn't happen.
"Any time you get those, they bother you," Tippett said. "They're an advantage you can't give away, especially a team with a power play like that. Luckily, our penalty killers did a great job."
True, the Coyotes got past that problem, killing all five penalties and improving their penalty-killing percentage to 84.7. Perhaps more problematic was the Coyotes' failure to capitalize on power-play opportunities.
In their lone regulation chance, the Coyotes couldn't take advantage. That's not surprising for a team with the NHL's second-worst power-play percentage at 12.9, but it was their next opportunity that hurt the most.
When Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk was called for tripping in overtime, the Coyotes had their chance. An opportunity to beat the league's best team on a night full of disadvantages had presented itself in the form of an overtime power play. Phoenix had perhaps its best, most aggressive power play in quite a while, controlling the puck in the Detroit zone for nearly all two minutes, but ultimately couldn't put the puck in the net, sending the game to a shootout.
"We had some looks," Tippett said. "You can have some looks, but you've got to have some finish."
Such has been the story of the Coyotes' season: no finish. Losing a game at home to the Red Wings on such a night is perhaps the most blatant case yet of letting a winnable game slip away via missed opportunities. And with just three wins in their last 13 games, it's even more painful a loss.
The game, however, was not a total loss. Forcing overtime did get the Coyotes a point, putting them at 50 and just two back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference a week before the All-Star break.
"You're never pleased with only one point," Tippett said. "You go into it looking for two points, but the circumstances our team was in, with Detroit sitting here waiting for us last night and us playing a hard game in Anaheim, I thought our group gave everything they had. They gave everything they had and more."
That's the other upside to the loss -- a resilient spirit in a tough circumstances.
The schedule has been cruel to the Coyotes lately, as they've played just five of their last 16 games at home. Things get more favorable now, and that approach could prove crucial to a better second half.
But the Coyotes can't miss out on chances for big wins and momentum like they did Thursday night.