Solid effort goes unrewarded in Coyotes' loss to Caps

BY foxsports • November 19, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes coach Dave Tippett opted to go back to goalie Mike Smith on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals, rather than ride Devan Dubynk's hot hand. That wasn't the problem in a 2-1 overtime loss at Gila River Arena.

It was tough to find many major issues with the Coyotes' game. They blocked 17 shots -- five by defenseman Chris Summers and four by defenseman Michael Stone, including one right in the chops.

The Coyotes played a disciplined, hard, structured game for most of the night, although they were on their heels in the third period. They held Caps star Alex Ovechkin off the score sheet, and Smith made 22 saves, including a few superb stops against Washington's third-ranked power play.

It was just one of those nights where they couldn't finish -- a night this team will have to fight through more than most without a wealth of top-end skill to increase its odds.

"Obviously, they're a dynamic offense so limiting them to one goal (through regulation) is pretty good," said Stone, who was sporting an unknown number of stitches on the left side of his chin after the game. "We needed to capitalize on some chances. I thought we had the puck most of the overtime and ended up losing on one little breakdown."

That breakdown came after Smith stopped Brooks Orpik's shot from the left circle, only to have the puck bounce onto the stick of Eric Fehr, who was all alone on the doorstep, a stride ahead of defenseman Keith Yandle. Fehr slid the puck just past Smith's outstretched left pad, handing the Coyotes their third straight one-goal loss at home following late regulation losses to the New York Islanders and Dallas.

"I thought we competed hard tonight," Tippett said. "We have to play like that if we're going to have a chance to be successful."

The Coyotes were dealt a blow when center Martin Hanzal left the ice after the morning skate complaining that he didn't feel well. The Coyotes listed him as day-to-day with a lower body injury. The team was already without defenseman Brandon Gormley (IR, lower body) and forward Rob Klinkhammer (upper body).

But just as critical -- and this will be a recurring theme all year -- was the inability of the power play to cash in with a goal after netting one in each of its previous three games. The Coyotes had four opportunities through the first two periods and several golden chances, but left with nothing to show for it.

"(Mikkel Boedker) had two or three really good looks that you'd like to see one of those go in, but that's the way it goes sometimes," Tippett said.

Tippett downplayed the decision to go back to Smith, noting that the Coyotes play nine games in 15 days.

"As much as we want to say one guy is great, we need both those guys playing well and we're fortunate to have that," Tippett said. "Smitty didn't play very well in the Calgary game (last Thursday), but before that he had I think seven of nine games where he was pretty good.

"The Islander game we should have got points out of because of him and the Dallas game was there to be taken and we kind of let it slip away and it had nothing to do with him.

"We played better in front of Mike tonight."

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