ARIZONA COYOTES

Arizona Coyotes bested by surging Flames in return to home ice

Dec 10, 2019, 11:16 PM

Brad Richardson #15 of the Arizona Coyotes faces off against Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames...

Brad Richardson #15 of the Arizona Coyotes faces off against Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames during the third period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 10, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Flames defeated the Coyotes 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes’ return home from a long road trip resulted in a loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, 5-2.

The Flames have won seven of their last eight games, and now have 38 points in the standings, two points behind the Coyotes. Because of a 6-3 Oilers loss on Tuesday to Carolina, Arizona (16-11-4) remained tied with Edmonton at 40 points for first place in the Pacific Division. Still, the race for first place in the Pacific has three teams bunched tightly together.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, got off on the wrong foot after coming back from a road trip that saw them take six out of eight possible points.

“We didn’t give up. We still had a bunch of shots,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “But we gave them two or three goals right off the bat. You’re chasing the game.”

Shots were 48-29 in favor the Coyotes. As measured by NaturalStatTrick, scoring chances were 32-18 Arizona. Antti Raanta started in net for the Coyotes and made 24 saves, being bested by Cam Talbot on the other end. The narrative was split as to who was to blame for the loss.

“We didn’t quit so that’s a good thing,” Raanta said. “But we can’t win games with that kind of goaltending. I need to be much better and that’s pretty much how the game went. I couldn’t make the timely saves, and that’s the result.”

Derek Stepan didn’t seem to agree.

“He didn’t get much help to start, and he made some big saves for us, too,” Stepan said. “That’s just who he is. That’s the kind of person he is, but I’m not going to give him that credit tonight. He’s been really strong for us the last few games.”

Jakob Chychrun didn’t, either.

“It’s tough,” Chychrun said. “You hate to do that to our goalies, who they’ve been there for us all year. You hate to do that to him, and they deserve better. So we’ve got to be better for them.”

So what happened in front of Raanta? In the opening minutes, a Michael Grabner scoring chance looked like a sure goal as he got Talbot to move out of position, but Grabner’s shot hit the post. Moments later, a turnover in the defensive zone by Arizona resulted in a Calgary goal.

It didn’t get much better from there.

Raanta wasn’t perfect, but neither was the team as a whole. Michael Frolik (turnover), Johnny Gaudreau (lost faceoff by ARI), Zac Rinaldo (turnover), Sean Monahan (blown coverage) and Milan Lucic (PK) all scored, assisted either directly or indirectly by mistakes from Coyotes skaters, however big or small.

There was some newness to the Coyotes’ lineup, too. The news that top-pairing defenseman Jason Demers was out week-to-week with an injury on Tuesday meant Ilya Lyubushkin, who normally plays on the bottom pairing, was up top with Oliver Ekman-Larsson as a right-handed shot.

Aaron Ness slotted into the lineup and played with Jordan Oesterle on the bottom pairing. Demers joined Niklas Hjalmarsson as two important defensemen on the shelf.

“Guys want ice time and guys want to play, they’ve got to start proving it,” Tocchet said. “We need some guys to step up here. You know what I mean? And it’s tough on Ness, he hasn’t in played in seven or eight games. So give him a little bit of a break. But we need some guys to step up and we need some guys that don’t play usually as many minutes to step up.

“J.D. and Hammer, they’re a big part of our D, but we’re not going to have them for a while. So we’re going to have to have some people step up here. You can’t hide. Maybe we look down to the minors and grab a couple guys up here. But we’ve got to make sure that guys are ready to play.”

In the forward grouping, the Coyotes had Christian Fischer with Christian Dvorak and Nick Schmaltz for some time, while Conor Garland was with Michael Grabner and Brad Richardson. Of course, lines can be fluid throughout the course of the game.

Chychrun and Phil Kessel each scored their seventh goals of the season, the latter coming with 0:32 remaining in the game, on the power play.

The Coyotes are now 7-7-1 at home this season. Their point total of 15 in home games this year was the third-worst in the NHL at time of this writing, although not all teams have played the same number of home games so far. Arizona is 1-3-1 in its last five home games.

“We had our chances and I thought we shot a lot of pucks … in the [goalie’s] stomach,” Tocchet said. “And I felt there’s a second effort to get those loose pucks — I don’t know if they were there. I didn’t see the tenacity. We had some chances, don’t get me wrong. But to me, we have to figure out, coming home, our lack of preparation. Maybe it’s on me to do some different things.”

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) reaches out for the puck as Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson (4) applies pressure during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan (21) has his shot stopped by Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) as Lindholm helps out Flames goaltender Cam Talbot (39) while Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (18) and Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) look on during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames center Dillon Dube (29) tries to control the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) kicks the puck as Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) helps out Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (55), center Mikael Backlund (11), and center Dillon Dube (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, right, pauses on the ice after giving up a goal to Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) as Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) arrives to celebrate during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot (39) makes a save on a shot as Arizona Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer (36) and Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, right, look on during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) and Calgary Flames center Tobias Rieder (16) battle for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames center Zac Rinaldo (36) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot (39) makes a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller (9) as Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson (4) applies pressure during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames right wing Michael Frolik, left, celebrates his goal with Flames center Zac Rinaldo (36) as Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle (82) skates past during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Calgary Flames right wing Michael Frolik (67) gets the puck past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) and Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle (82) for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Coyotes

Lawson Crouse of Canada, Milan Lucic of Canada and Peyton Krebs of Canada Team Canada celebrates af...

Associated Press

Lawson Crouse scores, Andre Tourigny-coached Canada defeats Germany to win hockey worlds

Arizona Coyotes' Lawson Crouse scored for Canada in a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

1 day ago

Mesa Mayor John Giles, Tempe mayor Corey Woods...

Arizona Sports

Mesa mayor ‘encouraging’ Coyotes to look at private sites for new arena

Could the Arizona Coyotes find a new arena home in Mesa and find a way to avoid a public vote like the squashed Tempe plans required?

7 days ago

Logan Cooley #92 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers warms up before a game against the Quinnipiac Bobc...

Wills Rice

Coyotes prospect Logan Cooley to stay 1 more year in college

Arizona Coyotes highly regarded center prospect Logan Cooley announced he is staying in college for one more year.

9 days ago

Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes...

Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes reportedly inquire about Mesa’s Fiesta Mall site in arena land search

Mesa's old Fiesta Mall footprint is among the land the Arizona Coyotes have inquired about, CBS5's and 3TV's Dennis Welch reported Thursday.

11 days ago

Mullett Arena, Arizona Coyotes, tempe...

Arizona Sports

Coyotes to play at Mullett Arena in 2023-24, seeking new Valley site

The Arizona Coyotes expect to play at Mullett Arena as planned in the 2023-24 season amid uncertainty about their future, the team confirmed.

12 days ago

Arizona Coyotes Tempe arena...

Jake Anderson

Hockey world reacts to Tempe voters’ rejection of Coyotes’ arena plan

One of the Arizona Coyotes' captains and a face of the franchise Clayton Keller made his reaction felt with one simple emoji.

12 days ago

Arizona Coyotes bested by surging Flames in return to home ice