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Penalties, special teams bite Coyotes in loss to Blue Jackets

Emil Bemstrom #52 (L) of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after scoring his first career goal past goaltender Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on November 07, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet admitted he thought his own team was the one shooting itself in the foot after its lost 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

“It’s just pissin’ points away,” Tocchet said. “We had Calgary up 3-1 and we had these guys, it’s 2-1. It wasn’t what Columbus was doing. It was shooting ourself in the foot.”

As Tocchet said, the Coyotes have blown a lead in back-to-back games. A lot of it came down to penalties, as Arizona took six penalties on Tuesday and four on Thursday, giving up three power play goals combined across those two games.

“Too many penalties, that’s the bottom line,” Tocchet said. “And it’s a lot of hooking and holding. Can’t win that way. Just dumb penalties.”

Penalties or not, Arizona’s game against Columbus on Thursday wasn’t a work of art. Columbus scored on a flukey bounce 0:14 in, but after Arizona outshot its opponent after a period of play, they failed to generate their first shot on goal of the second period until 8:04 into the frame (that one happened to result in a goal).

The Coyotes had a 2-1 lead, but gave it up on a power play goal and then later allowed the Blue Jackets to go up 3-2 when Kyle Capobianco blew the opportunity to clear a puck out of the zone. Instead, the puck landed on the stick of Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored. That was the deciding goal on a crucial mistake.

Arizona got a late power play and had a 6-on-4 advantage with goaltender Darcy Kuemper pulled, but the Coyotes didn’t score. As Tocchet noted in the postgame press conference, Arizona has not been good at those 6-on-4 or 6-on-5 situations in recent years.

“We’re passing,” Tocchet said. “Somebody’s got to take the puck to the middle and shoot the puck. We keep deferring all the time, and when we do shoot, we shoot it wide and nobody’s in front of the net. It just, it wasn’t good. And I don’t know if that’s [because] we’re tired, I don’t know.

“We haven’t been a good 6-on-5 team since I’ve been here, and I don’t know — It’s starting to really bother me now.”

Then there’s the issue of the power play, which went 0-for-3 on the night and is now 0-for-11 the last three games.

“I don’t think we got enough second looks on ’em,” Nick Schmaltz said. “I think we were kind of one-and-done tonight. Didn’t really have any sustained zone time, and that’s when we’re at our best, we’re wearing teams out down low and cycling and working them when they’re tired.”

Carl Soderberg and Jakob Chychrun were the goal-scorers for Arizona.

Next up is Minnesota, who at 5-9-1 is at the bottom of its division. But Monday is the start of a back-to-back at Washington and at St. Louis, two very capable teams that will present different challenges for Arizona. And it’s not until Nov. 20 that the Coyotes get consecutive days off.

The “details,” as Tocchet often refers to them, need to be tightened up for a difficult stretch of the schedule up next.

LOOSE PUCKS

— The Coyotes were out-shot 33-32.

— Jordan Oesterle (upper-body), Jason Demers (lower-body) and Brad Richardson (upper-body) were all out of Thursday’s game. It sounded as though Oesterle and Richardson are close to returning.

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