Crazy game results in shootout loss to Blackhawks for slumping Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Gila River Arena likely hasn’t seen a game that entertaining in a long time. The Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks put on a show on Saturday.
Entertainment value doesn’t count for points in the standings though, as the Coyotes just got one point for their 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago. Moral victories don’t count for much, either, but be glad that the Coyotes came back from being down 2-0 at a time when they need every point they can get.
Arizona (26-21-7) has lost eight of its last nine games now and is 0-3-2 in its last five. It has two points in as many games after losing in overtime on Thursday.
“It was exciting for the fans,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I don’t know. There was a lot of breakaways, a lot of broken coverages. I’m not sure I liked that type of hockey. But I do like our response.”
According to NaturalStatTrick, “high-danger” scoring chances favored the Coyotes, 9-5. So did scoring chances of any kind at 5-on-5, 27-23. Shots were 44-42, Chicago.
“I thought it was a really good hockey game,” Brad Richardson said. “I thought both teams played pretty well. Shootouts, you never know what’s going to happen. They made a couple good plays and that’s the way it is. I thought [Antti Raanta] had a heck of a game and overall, I thought we played pretty good.”
Indeed, Raanta stole some of the spotlight. His “scorpion” save in the third period will surely make highlight reels, and his quick scrambles and movements across the crease kept the Coyotes in a position to win. He was excellent, and finished the night with 42 saves on 44 shots.
“He played well. It was nice to see,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I know he was upset he let in that first one. But he just battled. That’s all you ask for a goalie, to battle. Don’t let them get that third goal. And that got us back in the game.”
Raanta, however, gave up goals on both of the Blackhawks’ shootout attempts (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane).
“I know he was little bit frustrated, but I thought it was his best game of the year,” Richardson said. “He made some huge saves, some highlight reel. He kept us in there late in the third. In overtime, he had some good ones, too. It was probably the best game I’ve seen him play in a long time.”
On the other end, Corey Crawford had 40 saves on 42 shots and stopped both of Arizona’s two shootout attempts (Nick Schmaltz, Conor Garland).
Chicago scored a goal in each of the first and second period, both by Brandon Saad and assisted by Patrick Kane. Richardson made it 2-1 in the second period, and Garland scored his team-leading 17th of the season with 1:40 to go in the second period to get things tied before intermission. Shots were 17-17 from the start of the third period to the end of overtime.
“It wasn’t a bad game, wasn’t our best,” Taylor Hall said. “It was kind of a back-and-forth affair. If we could go back and do anything, it’d probably be just limit their rush chances and their chances from the slot. But that’s hockey sometimes. You’ve got to play the way the game’s going, and obviously ‘Raants’ played unbelievable tonight and really allowed us to get to overtime.
“From there, shootouts are sometimes a coin flip. But two points, it was up for grabs and it was there, and unfortunately we didn’t grab it.”
The Coyotes now have a three-point margin between them and the Blackhawks for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They’ve earned points in each of the last two games. On the other hand, this stretch of losses is damaging, full of missed opportunities. Arizona is in need of a win streak, but at this point, they simply need a win.
On Saturday in particular, Tocchet indicated that he felt more players needed to contribute consistently.
“I like the effort from most of the guys, but our team’s built– we need 21 guys,” he said. “We can’t have 13 guys playing. It’s impossible to win consistently.
“For the most part … we gave an effort. But you can’t have four or five guys just throwing zeroes. If you’re not scoring, you better be hitting, you better be playing good defense. If you’re not doing that, and you’re not playing good defense, then you’re doing nothing for us. And that’s just the state of the union. This is crunch time.”
Richardson and Hall said that the last two games have had some positive takeaways.
“There’s some really good things to take from the last couple games,” Hall said. “Probably the biggest thing is overcoming a two-goal deficit and managing to really control the play after that.”
The next game is on Tuesday against Edmonton.
— Richardson returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury.
— Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower-body) is day-to-day and missed Saturday’s game.
— Defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin (illness) missed Saturday’s game.
— Garland played his 100th NHL game.