There are deflating losses, and then there’s the one the Phoenix Coyotes suffered at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
The Coyotes built an early 2-0 lead on the New York Rangers behind goals from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jeff Halpern, only to see it vanish by the midway point of the second period.
While Kyle Chipchura would lift Phoenix’s collective spirit with a rather fortuitous goal before the end of the second, the fun times would end there.
With 7:34 remaining in the third period, Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith stopped Mats Zuccarello wrister from the point, however Rangers center Derick Brassard proceeded to land awkwardly on Smith’s right leg in the crease.
Smith laid flat on the ice writhing in pain for several minutes, before being helped off the ice by Shane Doan and others.
Back-up Thomas Greiss did his best to hold the lead, but the Rangers had no issue peppering the net with shots for the remainder of the contest.
Dan Girardi redirected a shot from the point past Greiss with 3:26 left to go, and Ryan McDonagh finished off an easy rebound in the extra session as the Rangers came back for a 4-3 victory.
Here’s a look back at the heartbreaking loss by the numbers:
Phoenix has now held a two-goal lead in five of its last seven games. Of those five games, it has a 4-1-0 record.
While Chipchura’s go-ahead goal in the second was more of a pass than anything else that somehow deflected off of Chris Kreider’s stick and past Henrik Lunqvist, it was a goal nonetheless — his third of the campaign. The goal also gave Chipchura his third multi-point performance of 2013-14, as he had an assist on Halpern’s first period tally.
Before his unfortunate collision with Brassard, Smith recorded his third assist of the season — tying him with Lunqvist and Kari Lehtonen for most points by a goalie with four.
Halpern’s goal to push the lead to two came off a beautiful feed from Chipchura. For Halpern, it was his fifth tally of the season and 10th in his career against the Rangers.
Ekman-Larsson’s power play goal in the first was his 13th of the season — tying his career-high set back in 2011-12.
Ekman-Larsson’s goal didn’t just tie his career-high. It also gave him 40 points for the season. OEL and Keith Yandle are one of only three defensive pairings to each have 40 points in 2013-14, joining Montreal’s PK Subban and Andrei Markov and St. Louis’ Alex Pientrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Even in a losing effort, the Coyotes managed to pick up one point by getting the game to overtime. With 80 points, Phoenix still finishes the night in eighth place in the Western Conference.
The world’s most famous arena has not treated the Coyotes’ too kindly of late. With Monday’s 4-3 loss, Phoenix hasn’t won at Madison Square Garden since Dec. 16, 2007.