Close is no consolation for Coyotes’ head coach Rick Tocchet
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rick Tocchet wasn’t in the mood for consolation prizes after Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at Gila River Arena. He wasn’t in the mood for positive spins.
The Coyotes have been close to posting their first victory in the last two games, falling by one goal in each of them. While his players suggested that an upcoming five-game road trip might be the tonic this team needs to escape the home distractions, bond and finally get over the hump, Tocchet shrugged like a guy who’s heard all those lines before.
“I want to win home games,” said Tocchet, whose team fell to 0-7-1 overall — the worst eight-game start in franchise history — and 0-4-1 at home. “Yeah, it’s good to go on the road now, but we had some winnable games here [where] we were in the games. Those are points that we can’t get back.”
Saturday’s loss had some familiar storylines and some bad breaks, like the game-winning goal, which bounced directly to Chicago’s Lance Bouma in the slot for a gimme goal at 15:36 of the third period.
The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead when Christian Fischer’s passing attempt deflected off the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Oesterle and through goalie Corey Crawford’s pads at 7:47 of the first period.
But Kevin Connauton took an interference penalty and the Blackhawks tied the game 1-1 on a power play at 8:48 on Richard Panik’s deflection. It was the ninth time this season the Coyotes allowed an opponent to score within two minutes of scoring themselves.
Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 2-1 lead on a breakaway at 11:32 of the second period off a fortunate break. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was deep in the zone and center Brad Richardson was covering for him at the point. Max Domi centered a pass to defenseman Jason Demers, who was pinching in from the point, but the pass was slightly off and Demers didn’t get much on it.
Jonathan Toews intercepted it and with Richardson sliding laterally across the ice instead of back into a defensive posture, Toews found Kane with a stretch pass behind Richardson and Ekman-Larsson. Kane beat Domingue for a 2-1 lead.
“A couple little breakdowns and the puck bounces and it goes to their guy,” Tocchet said. “That’s the way it’s been going the last two, three weeks.”
The Coyotes thought momentum had swung in their favor when Tommy Wingels’ goal on a penalty shot was overturned by a video review because Domingue poked the puck off Wingels’ stick. Rule 24.2 states that “no goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind” on a penalty shot.
Clayton Keller scored his rookie-leading sixth goal of the season at 18:14 of the second period to tie the game 2-2, but the lack of secondary scoring cost the Coyotes again. Chicago got two goals from its fourth line in the third period and the Coyotes absorbed another loss in a season that has known nothing but losses.
“It’s been the same old story for a little bit,” Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. “We’ve got to find a way to change it.”
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