Colorado takes 2-0 series lead despite Coyotes’ bounce-back effort
The Arizona Coyotes’ effort on Friday was enough.
It was enough to erase the dire feeling one could leave with after watching Wednesday’s lopsided loss. It was enough to prove that the Coyotes were plenty capable of beating the Colorado Avalanche in the postseason. But it wasn’t enough to mitigate the effect of a crazy bounce or the volatility of a hockey game that was tied with mere minutes remaining.
A blocked shot bounced right to the stick of Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky, who shot the puck and buried it to make it 3-2 with 2:53 remaining in the game. That score stood as the final, and Arizona finds itself down 2-0 in the series.
“We played a really good hockey game,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We missed the net a couple of chances. I think we hit the net there on one of those two, I think we score. But yeah, played a good hockey game.
“That’s more like it. I’m proud of the way we played, they responded, they were in their faces. That’s more like the way we’ve got to play consistently. Yeah, we would like to get that next goal. Would you like a power play goal? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, we played a good hockey game.”
The Coyotes spent most of Wednesday’s Game 1 defending, never having a chance to take a lead or answer the three Colorado goals the Avs scored in the span of 1:23 in the third period. Friday was much different, as Arizona came out with aggressiveness and answers. Colorado scored first, but the teams traded goals to make it 2-2 by second intermission.
The Coyotes outshot the Avalanche 32-28. Shot attempts were 57-55 Arizona. High-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 were 8-6 Arizona, per Natural Stat Trick. Goals, though, were 3-2 Colorado.
“I think we came out hard today, got a lot of pucks to the net,” forward Clayton Keller said. “But the result was the same, and I think we’ve just got to find another gear for tomorrow. When the pressure’s on, three minutes left, we’ve got to play tight, put a puck on the net, and they get one there and I think we’ve got to try to find a better way to get one there late.”
The Coyotes must win four of their next five to advance. Game 3 is on Saturday, giving the Coyotes less than 24 hours to repeat their effort and change the outcome.
“I think the last couple years I’ve been here, we always bounce back, always put good efforts out there,” forward Michael Grabner said. “It’s a nice quick turnaround so we don’t have to think about this loss too much, we’ve got to get ready for tomorrow and put the same effort out there and just score one more goal.”
On Wednesday, the Coyotes were outshot wildly, not just outscored. A hot start in the first period implied that wouldn’t be the case on Friday.
All four lines, but especially the top line comprised of Taylor Hall, Derek Stepan and Keller, were sharp after puck drop. But in a seeming microcosm for the entire game, the effort didn’t match the result. Colorado got the game’s first goal on a steal-and-score by Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon at 3:40 in the first period.
Arizona answered before intermission as Keller got his team-leading third goal of this postseason, unassisted. It was 1-1.
In the second period, a shot by Cale Makar was well wide of the net but redirected in on a nice deflection by Tyson Jost. That put Colorado up 2-1. Again, the Coyotes answered in the same period and got a goal from Grabner, his third of the postseason to tie Keller. Grabner’s goal was assisted by Brad Richardson and Jordan Oesterle.
The only goal thereafter was that of Burakovsky, who was the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper couldn’t make the stop and it was 3-2.
Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play. Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves for Arizona. Philipp Grubauer was in net for Colorado, making 30 saves.
“We were in their face today,” Tocchet said. “We had a good game. We could have won that hockey game. It’s more the style. You’ve got to go down swinging, and we were in the game. Obviously the last goal, not happy with. But for the most part, we had a chance to win that hockey game. I’d rather play that way.
“We’ve got 24 hours to play. You’ve got to do the same thing. We’re not backing off. You’ve got to play the same way. We’ve got to be able to score one more goal than they do.”
— Rick Tocchet, on being down 2-0: “It’s 24 hours, it’s a roller-coaster, right? So you’ve got to get yourself back, you’ve got to get a good meal in, get a good sleep and you’re right back at it. That’s just the way it is. That’s playoff hockey. You see a lot of different things in playoff hockey and one thing is your attitude and your energy level has to be there the next night. You have to have a short memory.
“Yeah, we’re disappointed, you want to win these types of games. I thought we played a good hockey game. But at the end of the day, we lost, you’ve got to make sure you come back with the same energy, the same game plan and go right at ’em.”
— Forward Nick Schmaltz (head/neck) missed Friday’s game for Arizona. He has yet to play this postseason.
— Antti Raanta was the backup to Kuemper on Friday. Adin Hill had been the backup after Raanta took a puck to the head in warmups in the Nashville series.