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Arizona Coyotes’ win streak ends with loss to reigning Capitals

Washington Capitals goaltender Pheonix Copley (1) gives Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) a shove as Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) looks for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Capitals won 4-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes had a chance on Thursday to extend their win streak to five games — and same for rookie goaltender Adin Hill — against the Washington Capitals.

Instead, the Coyotes failed to do what they had already done once against the Capitals this year. They lost, giving up a late, deciding goal to make it 3-2 at 15:18 in the third period. A win would’ve given them their second five-game win streak this season.

Instead, an empty-netter cemented a 4-2 Capitals win at Gila River Arena.

“I hope our players are pissed. Because the coaching staff’s pissed,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “These are games you’ve got to win. You know what I mean? I think. It’s not the good ole college try. I mean it’s 2-2, at least go to overtime. And I thought we just — we kind of just backed up. And I hate backing up when it’s 2-2.”

Indeed, it was 2-2 in the third period after the Coyotes once held 1-0 and 2-1 leads over the team that won the Stanley Cup last year. And in a way, those kinds of losses are even more frustrating than the blowouts, as Tocchet alluded to.

He should know — the Coyotes just had a couple of blowouts in a row not too long ago, and promptly traded Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini for Nick Schmaltz. Since then, Arizona had won four games in as many tries, and Schmaltz had five points in that span. Hill was undefeated.

They were bouncing back from a 10-game stretch of 2-6-2.

All the more reason for them to be “pissed” that they lost.

“It’s hard to win in this league,” Tocchet said. “So that’s why the details have to be there. You have to have details. Stick on puck, go through people, one guy’s got to go to the net, shoot the puck. These are details you have to do all the time. It’s hard to do and the good teams do that.

“I know we had a four-win [streak] — but this is where you can get a little bit of a run.”

Hill, appearing in his fifth straight game, stopped 25 of 28 shots faced, but let in the deciding goal on a clean shot from Andre Burakovsky that bounced off Hill’s blocker and in. He also gave up goals to Jakub Vrana and Matt Niskanen, later stopping Vrana on a penalty shot.

Alex Ovechkin scored the empty-netter.

“Honestly I feel like personally I’ve just got to save that last one and force the game into overtime or who knows what happens after that, right?” Hill said. “He just came down the wing and got a good shot off and I got a piece of it with my blocker but at the end of the day I’ve got to make that save.”

All this after Christian Fischer scored on a nice feed from Derek Stepan, who stole the puck away from Washington to set up the play. It was Fischer’s second goal in three games and put Arizona up 1-0. In the second period, after Vrana’s goal tied it, Arizona answered back quickly with a goal from Lawson Crouse to make it 2-1.

It wasn’t until late in the second period that Niskanen tied it at 2-2 to set up the decisive third period.

“Obviously I think the problem was that third period,” Fischer said. “They’re a really good team, they can score goals and they just had a little bit of extra push there. We’re tied 2-2 with five, six minutes left, somehow we’ve got to just try to find a way to lock it down.

“We shouldn’t be backing off or doing anything different.”

At the final horn, shots were even, 29-29. The Coyotes are now 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

“I think we had a couple good stretches of momentum where we really poured it on a little bit, but I mean they had a couple, too,” defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “I think it was a pretty even game, for me.

“It’s a frustrating one for sure. They could’ve been had out there tonight. It probably wasn’t their best game. For us, I thought we had a good start. It wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t bad, but we kind of lost that momentum that we had at the start of the game.”

LOOSE PUCKS

–The Capitals started goaltender Pheonix Copley (stopped 27 of 29) over Braden Holtby, and were without Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie.

–Vinnie Hinostroza left the game with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated on Friday.

–There were two penalty shots in Thursday night’s game. Vrana took one, Richard Panik took the other. Both were unsuccessful.

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