Arizona Coyotes fail to stop streaking St. Louis Blues
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes could’ve won their third straight on Thursday. They could’ve ended the St. Louis Blues’ seven-game win streak.
They instead lost 4-0 and fell to 25-27-5 on the season.
“Look at our record,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’re three or four games under .500 and we’re above .500 on the road. … If you want to make the playoffs, you’ve got to have a really good home record.”
With its win, St. Louis graduated from the Western Conference wild card lead and into third place in the Central Division. Arizona is four points back of the Wild Card’s second place team, Minnesota, with 55 points.
“They’ve been probably the hottest team in the NHL as of late,” Brad Richardson said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, but one we should’ve been very ready for. Obviously it was a big matchup in the standings. We didn’t play very good in the first. So I think you get down and then they didn’t give us much. We couldn’t really generate much until the end of the game. But too little, too late.”
Thursday marked Arizona’s sixth loss in the last eight games.
The Coyotes came out slow in the first period and allowed two goals, then one more each in the second and third periods to fall 4-0. Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals.
“We were sloppy early. And then we gave them the two-goal lead,” Tocchet said. “And then they just locked it down. They just kind of sat back and, big team, we didn’t really penetrate much. Push in the second a little bit, we had some chances. … It seemed like every shot they had, they scored.”
Arizona’s power play went 0-for-3.
“We got a power play and had a chance to get back in the game, but couldn’t really get anything out of it,” Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “I thought we kind of moved the puck around pretty good. But it’s hard to score when you don’t shoot the puck. Overall, I don’t think it was good enough. We didn’t come up ready and that’s when you get behind.”
Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington got the win for the Blues on Valentine’s Day, starting in what was the 16th game of his NHL career. He is 11-1-1 this season. He made 21 saves. Darcy Kuemper stopped 20 shots.
“They defend really well, as we saw tonight,” Kuemper said. “Going down 2-0, really tough team to come back on. They did a great job of shutting down. We kept battling, we just couldn’t get back into it.”
Arizona hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs next, going up against a team that boasts heavy offensive firepower and has the second-highest goal differential in the NHL (41) behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (70).
Thursday night’s game saw the return of Richardson, who played for the first time since Jan. 10 after suffering a hand injury. He played 13:30 with 1:29 on the penalty kill, registering two shots on goal and going 54 percent in the faceoff circle.
“You’re just trying to get back in there. It’s never easy,” Richardson said. “I’ve been skating for a month straight but it’s never easy when you’re getting back into game pace this time of year. So you’re just trying to get back in it. After the first, I felt pretty good. I’m still not where I want to be but hopefully in the next few games I get back up to speed.”