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Coyotes fall one goal short against Colorado in return home

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy (5) gets tripped by Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg (34) into Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 3-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

For the first time in two weeks, the Arizona Coyotes finally got to play a hockey game on home ice. But that wasn’t enough of a boost to get them their second consecutive win.

Matt Duchene scored twice and Rene Bourque notched his first goal of the season as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Desert Dogs by a final of 3-2 at Gila River Arena on Saturday night. Radim Vrbata and Tobias Rieder picked up goals for Arizona in the loss.

Vrbata got the scoring started in the first, taking a slick feed from Max Domi for his fourth tally of the young season. The trio of Vrbata, Domi and Martin Hanzal broke into the Colorado zone, with Hanzal carrying the puck. He quickly dropped it to Domi, who split the Avalanche defenders, got both of them to follow him and then whipped the pass to Vrbata in the slot, who buried it for the early lead.

The scoring went dry after that, though.

“Vrbata’s goal was a good play for us,” Dave Tippett said. “But we didn’t have much push after that. There’s not enough push.”

On the one hand, that’s somewhat understandable. The Coyotes just played six consecutive road games on the east coast, got back very early on Friday, and had little time to regroup before this one. It makes sense that a young team with nearly half its roster looking different than it did at the end of last season would need some time to gel and that has shown through over the last few games. Arizona has put together good stretches but hasn’t been able to sustain strong play for a full 60 minutes.

That said, Colorado just faced off with Winnipeg last night, so it’s not as if the Avs came into this one well rested. They didn’t play a perfect game either but were able to tie things up in the second on a spinning goal by Duchene, then take the lead on a power play goal by Bourque in the third.

The actual game-winner came later, though, when Duchene broke down the right side and fired one that Domingue got a piece of, but couldn’t completely contain.

“It was just a good shot. I read it the whole way,” the 24-year old netminder explained. “I was there and I had my glove on it. It just beat the glove, basically.”

Unfortunately, that’s been the story over the last week for the Coyotes. They’re 1-4 in their last five contests, but all of them — with the exception of Tuesday’s loss to New Jersey, when the Devils added a late empty-netter — have been one-goal games, and the deciding goal in each of those was the weakest goal of the night.

For his part, Domingue delivered a pretty strong effort in this one, stopping 31 of the 34 shots he faced – including a few big saves early on. To give the player credit, it was a good shot by Duchene, who is arguably Colorado’s best pure goal-scorer. Still, it’s one Domingue wanted back.

“It hit the soft part of my glove,” he explained. “I’ve got to have that, especially when we’re struggling to get wins.”

Rieder lit the lamp on a breakaway goal with 4:04 remaining in the third, and Arizona was able to pull Domingue to get the extra attacker and sustain some pressure late. But the tying goal never came.

Now the Coyotes get a couple days to regroup — really, the first break they’ve had this season — before playing host to the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

NOTES

-Max Domi has picked up at least one assist in four straight games.

-Saturday marked Arizona’s first game against a Western Conference team this season.

-Michael Stone missed the game with an upper-body injury he suffered in Thursday’s victory over the Flyers. He’s day-to-day, but Tippett was optimistic that he’d be ready for Tuesday’s contest.

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