GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Playing with an early lead has not exactly been the Phoenix Coyotes' strong suit of late.
So, they decided to flip the script a little bit in Tuesday night's Western Conference clash with the Winnipeg Jets.
But as it turned out, the come-from-behind look wasn't quite flattering enough on the Coyotes, either.
After a fortuitous bounce aided Winnipeg's first goal of the evening on a slapper by Andrew Ladd, Phoenix took control of the contest for almost all of the remaining 50 minutes of play in regulation.
Unfortunately, that effort and a subsequent game-tying goal by Zbynek Michalek wouldn't materialize itself into two points in the standings.
Phoenix's dominant play hit a slight lull in the extra session and it cost them during the ensuing shootout.
Thomas Greiss stopped 21 of 22 shots he faced and the first attempt in the shootout. However, the final puck that was aimed in his direction eluded him when it mattered most.
Ladd flipped his shootout try off both the right post and Greiss' left heel. The ping-pong goal proved to be the difference, as Antoine Vermette's final rebuttal clanked off the right post at the other end of the ice and Winnipeg held on for a 2-1 victory.
"It's a game of inches," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "There's an extra point there that you'd certainly like to have. It wasn't for lack of trying. It was a fast, hard, tight hockey game. They got a couple bounces, and we didn't.
"The first goal they got goes off the referee and ends up in the back of the net. Their shootout goal hits the post, hits the back of Greiss and goes in. Ours hit the post and went out. Sometimes as good as you want to be, the game doesn't let you be good."
Those bounces kept the Coyotes from leapfrogging the Dallas Stars on their way back into eighth place in the Western Conference. While both teams sit tied with 85 points following the Stars' 5-0 road win Tuesday against the Washington Capitals, Dallas has a game in hand and thus temporarily holds the tiebreaker.
"Ultimately, you have to take care of yourself," said Tippett. "You know what's going on around you. But you have to take care of yourself."
When Mikkel Boedker skates with possession into the offensive zone, there's always a chance for something special to happen. The Jets found this out the hard way just 19 ticks into the second period.
The Coyotes left winger pushed the puck all the way up the ice to the left circle before firing a laser across the crease onto the stick of Vermette. Always one to take the smarter play, Vermette dropped it off to Zbynek Michalek, who rushed through the blue line and into the slot.
Although not known for his scoring prowess, Michalek had no problem putting the puck into an empty net, as Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec found himself totally out of position following Boedker's nifty pass.
"It was the first shift of the second period," Michalek said. "We were talking about making sure we got off to a good start in the second period. It happened. Vermy made a good play and found me with the puck wide open in the slot. You don't score many easier goals than that."
For Michalek, the goal was his second of the season. But the credit belongs to Boedker, who registered his team-leading 33rd even strength point with the secondary assist.
Phoenix's first game of April felt like a playoff game, but for all the wrong reasons. Winnipeg fans had no problem making the trek down from Manitoba, as they packed the lower levels of Jobing.com Arena.
And were they ever visible.
In fact, several times throughout the night, the pro-Jets contingent was the loudest bunch in the building, making it seem like a road contest for the Coyotes.
The Keith Yandle Turnover Bug reared its ugly head midway through the first period, but the Coyotes defenseman shouldn't be forced to take all the blame this time. In an attempt to get the puck out of his own zone, Yandle shoveled a pass down the ice.
Only one problem: It hit referee Frederick L'Ecuyer before it could make its way past the blue line.
From there, Winnipeg center Bryan Little made his way behind the net and scooped up the puck. He promptly fed it to the left circle, where Ladd was more than happy to finish off the play with a one-timer past Thomas Greiss for the contest's first goal.
Credit both Little and L'Ecuyer with assists.
"It seems like we're getting some bad bounces," Yandle said. "But you can't blame anything on (L'Ecuyer). He's doing his job, as well. It's a tough break."
STAT OF THE GAME
Phoenix certainly won the battle along the boards, collecting a season-high 51 hits. Of those 51, a career-high seven were registered by fourth-liner Kyle Chipchura.
HE SAID IT
"It's hard to ignore. They placed on the east coast and finished before we started. I think everybody knew the score and knew that they had won. We had to respond. We got one, and we'll move." - Zbynek Michalek on scoreboard watching during the Wild Card race
- The Jets became the fourth Western Conference team Tuesday to sweep the season series with the Coyotes -- joining the Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues.
- Ladd's shootout goal was the first allowed by Thomas Greiss in 2013-14. He had previously stopped nine straight attempts.
- The Coyotes' 1-0 deficit after the first period marked the first time since Jan. 20 that they trailed at home after 20 minutes of play.
- With an assist on Ladd's first period tally for Winnipeg, Little extended his points streak to seven games.
The Coyotes will indeed have to move on and move on quickly. The team left Glendale and headed straight to the airport, as it will face the Los Angeles Kings for the final time this season at the Staples Center. Los Angeles has all but locked up the third seed in the division, but Phoenix has had the advantage thus far, winning three of four prior contests. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MST and can be heard on KVMP 860 AM.
Greiss, who has allowed only seven goals in four starts since taking over for the injured Mike Smith, will be in net once again for Phoenix despite the quick turnaround.
"He's had lots of rest this year," said Tippett. "He'll be fine."