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Coyotes lose in return from road trip; skate blade goes missing

Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates after scoring a goal against goaltender Antti Raanta #32 of the Arizona Coyotes during the first period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. Gallagher is playing in his 500th career game. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes coming back to win Wednesday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens would’ve required setting a franchise record. That’s probably not the position they wanted to be in.

After coming back from two-goal deficits in each of the previous two games, the Coyotes failed to do so for a third straight contest on Wednesday. Had they done so, it would’ve been the first time in franchise history that they’d won three in a row after trailing by two goals in each game.

Instead, Arizona lost 4-1.

Arizona got off to a bad start and began to “chase the game” after Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher squeezed a puck between the Antti Raanta’s skate and the goalpost and in the net to make it 1-0 just 0:22 in. Shea Weber scored 0:24 into the second period.

“Start of the first period, seconds in, and start of the second period, seconds in — They’re killers,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “You can’t give freebies up [when facing Canadiens goaltender] Carey Price. He’s too good of a goalie.

“And we missed the net a bunch, high and wide. A couple guys, they just didn’t have it. They were sloppy tonight. A lot of guys were trying. I didn’t mind some of the effort. It wasn’t that bad. But you’ve got to be strong mentally. If you don’t have it, you’ve got to be smart in other ways.”

The loss marked the team’s first game back from a road trip that had stops at the New York City-area teams, as well as one in Buffalo. They had only one day off between a game in Buffalo and a game in Phoenix, and the schedule doesn’t get much better from here.

Derek Stepan politely opted to “pass” when asked a question that was based on the premise of a tough schedule.

“This is going to happen again,” Tocchet said. “We’re going to be in a tough spot, and we can’t just say, ‘It’s our schedule, it’s this-‘, it is what it is. Our schedule sucks, whatever it is, I don’t care. We can’t use it as an excuse.”

Price was good in net for Montreal, so when the Coyotes did apply pressure, he was there to make the save. He picks up the win in Arizona for the second year in a row.

“Yeah, there was moments where we had some pushes,” Stepan said. “Obviously he’s one of the best goalies in the league for a reason. It’s been that way for a long time. He made some saves for them. … He stood in there tall for them and made saves when he needed to.”

The Coyotes were outshot just 36-33. Gallagher, Weber, former Coyote Nick Cousins and Jonathan Drouin scored for Montreal. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun got the lone goal for the Coyotes on a feed from Phil Kessel.

Arizona has a chance to bounce back on Saturday against Colorado, which is missing two of its top players due to injury; Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog are both out.

RAANTA’S EQUIPMENT MALFUNCTION

On the second goal of the game, Raanta’s skate blade popped loose from his skate and he was unable to push off the ice. He dove to attempt to make a save on a shot from Weber, but he was unsuccessful. That made it 2-0 Montreal.

A similar thing happened in a playoff game between Boston and Tampa Bay when Bruins goaltender Tuuka Rask lost his skate blade. It’s caused in-part by a system where skate blades have an easy release that allows it to pop in and out. A side-effect is mishaps like the ones in question.

“I thought that I just misstepped there, but I think the punk hit the blade right on the toe and it got off,” Raanta said. “I didn’t realize it straightaway, I thought there’s something going on in my skate, but I didn’t realize I didn’t have the blade. So when I realized, it was a little too late to start pushing yourself back to the net, so just a weird thing.”

Nobody was blaming the officials for allowing the goal.

“That’s a tough one,” Tocchet said. “It’s not the ref’s fault. I think they had possession, right? So you’ve got to let the play go.”

Rule 14.1 of the NHL rulebook reads, “Play shall not be stopped nor the game delayed by reasons of adjustments to clothing, equipment, skates or sticks.” It later adds, “No delay shall be permitted for the repair or adjustment of goalkeeper’s equipment. If adjustments are required, the goalkeeper shall leave the ice and his place shall be taken by the substitute goalkeeper immediately.”

The rule reads similarly as it pertains to skaters.

When asked whether that rule should be changed, Tocchet admitted that there’s some rationale in letting the play continue.

“That’s a tough one. I think when you have possession, it’s tough to blow the whistle,” he said. “I don’t know. That’s a tough one, because they’ve got those blades now that pop in and off. Yeah, I don’t know.”

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