Winning both ends of a back-to-back in the NHL is a tough proposition in and of itself.
Doing so when the back end is a road contest against the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks? Well, that’s an even more daunting challenge.
The Phoenix Coyotes seemed up to the task for about half of Wednesday night’s contest in Anaheim, however tired legs, costly penalties and untimely face-off failures were more than enough to halt their plans of claiming victory against yet another divisional foe.
Following Michael Stone’s third goal of the season at the 12:40 mark of the second period, the Coyotes were handed a two-minute power play 50 seconds later and were poised to take full control of the game.
During the man advantage, however, Nick Bonino turned a penalty kill situation into a short-handed breakaway chance. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson wisely took him down before he came in on goal and was promptly sent to the penalty box for tripping.
Fellow defenseman Keith Yandle was whistled for goaltender interference 30 seconds later, and the Ducks made Phoenix pay.
On the ensuing power play, Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf’s shot from the point beat Mike Smith — thanks to a fortuitous deflection off the stick of Radim Vrbata — to knot the game up at two.
Minutes later, the Ducks then turned a delayed penalty into a man advantage as they kept the puck in their offensive zone for over 30 seconds. After failing to muster much of an offensive chance, Corey Perry finally deflected home a shot by Hampus Lindholm with less than two seconds remaining in the period.
The Ducks added a power play goal by Cam Fowler and an empty net tally by Andrew Cogliano in the third period and beat the Coyotes by a final of 5-2.
With Stone’s second period goal, Coyotes defensemen now have a league-leading 43 points.
Shane Doan’s first period breakaway tally gives him 10 points on the season. Phoenix has a league-high 10 players with at least 10 points.
Mike Ribeiro recorded the first assist of the night on a beautiful feed that setup Doan’s goal four minutes and 25 seconds into the first period. It was, however, just his second point in the last seven games. In 17 contests, he has 11 points.
Anaheim came into the night with the league’s worst power play unit — converting on just 6.7 percent of their man advantages. Wednesday, they converted on 50 percent (2 of 4) of their power play opportunities.
– Doan has scored a goal in four of his last five games.
– With the loss, Phoenix saw its five-game win streak come to an end. Dave Tippett’s squad now trails Anaheim by three points in the Pacific Division.
– Rookie Jordan Szwarz had 13:22 of ice time Wednesday. He nearly amassed that total in penalty minutes, though, with a 10-minute misconduct near the end of the third period.
– The Coyotes moved to 4-1-0 when scoring first on the road.
The Coyotes (11-4-2) return to the place that has been awfully kind to them this season, Jobing.com Arena, on Saturday night when they take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (8-7-0). The puck drops at 6 p.m. and the game can be heard on KMVP 860 AM.