Hanzal’s absence glaring in Coyotes’ loss to Bruins
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Martin Hanzal walked down the hallway and out of Gila River Arena about 10 minutes after Boston’s 2-1 win over Arizona on Saturday. The Coyotes are hoping that is the last time that scene plays out for a long time. Against Boston, Hanzal’s absence was a glaring void in the middle that the Bruins exploited.
Boston centers went 43-24 in the faceoff circle and also controlled the middle of the ice at both ends as the Bruins cruised to a win that was much easier than the score indicated.
Despite the 10-9 shot advantage, Boston dominated the first period in scoring chances. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak each hit a post with shots, the Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak missed five of the eight shots they attempted and the Coyotes had to block seven shots to keep the Bruins at bay. Arizona has been outshot 156-128 in the first period this season.
“We brought a lot of trouble on ourselves early in the game with turnovers,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “It gave them a lot of close chances.”
Boston enjoyed a sizable advantage in offensive-zone time in the first period and part of the second. That, too, was a product of the Coyotes mistakes.
“We gave up a few too many odd-man rushes and then we kind of got stuck in our own zone,” said defenseman Michael Stone, who returned form a six-game absence due to injury. “When you get stuck in your own zone and you finally get out, you don’t establish any offensive zone time because you’re changing because you’re tired. That’s kind of where things went with that.”
Boston finally took the lead when center David Krejci pushed a pass back to defenseman Zdeno Chara above the circles. Chara slapped a shot toward the net that left winger Ryan Spooner deflected through goalie Louis Domingue’s pads at the 7:54 mark of the second period.
Boston widened the lead to 2-0 just 1:50 later when Bergeron won a faceoff in the offensive zone and pushed the slid to defenseman Torey Krug. Krug found Marchand low in the right circle and Marchand fed Pastrnak for a one-timer inside the far post.
Bergeron was dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 24 of 29 draws while contributing greatly to Coyotes center Brad Richardson’s 2-for-15 night.
“Richie had a tough night in the circle,” Tippett said. “It’s certainly a sore spot against that team. With Bergeron, Krejci and even (Dominic) Moore is a good faceoff guy. I shuffled a lot of things.”
Radim Vrbata scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season on a shot that caromed off the post, off goalie Tuukka Rask’s back and in to cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:05 of the third period, but the Coyotes still suffered their fifth one-goal loss of the season.
“We are close but it’s not good enough,” Vrbata said. “This is a league where you need points. Even though we’ve lost most of the games by one goal, it’s not good enough.”
Tippett said he thinks Hanzal and goalie Mike Smith will both be back Wednesday and give the team “a big boost.” Stone insists the Coyotes are not in panic mode despite a 5-9 record.
“It’s still early,” he said. “Yeah, we’re at the bottom of the standings but we know we can play. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and doing it every night.”
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