The New York Rangers won a hockey game Saturday night under one of the most bizarre instances I’ve ever seen in hockey: a goal scored with .01 remaining on the clock. Aside from the heartbreaking goal, the Phoenix Coyotes played a solid game of hockey that could have gone either way. There was plenty of hitting, tense moments and great saves from both goaltenders. The game prescribes to the old adage: “You play until the final whistle.” Final Score: Rangers 3 – Coyotes 2.
Seen: One of the closest goals ever
As time expired, Rangers center Mike Richards flipped a backhanded shot past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. The original call on the ice was no goal, but it was sent to Toronto before review. The call was overturned, and rightfully so. The puck crossed the line at 19:59.9 seconds of the third period and left everyone — both in the seats and in the locker rooms — dumbfounded at what had just happened.
“It’s a loss,” said a visually frustrated Shane Doan. “It doesn’t matter how you get scored on. You lose, you lose.”
Heard: A loud crowd
Surprisingly, the crowd at Jobing.com Arena was incredibly vocal for a majority of the hockey game. Maybe it was the pace that both teams played with or the amount of hits or shots, but it worked. The back and forth chants of “Let’s go Coyotes” and “Let’s go Rangers” echoed through the arena from start to finish. In total, over 12,000 people made the trip to Glendale.
Observed: Late game failures killing the Coyotes
The Coyotes have given up 15 goals this season in the last two minutes of a period and six within the last five minutes of regulation. Those stats alone are killing this team. A team that wins Cups is a team that executes from start to finish and the Coyotes are not doing that right now.
“There’s some [goals] that are mistakes, there’s some that…the guy just turns and fires, you know, it is what it is,” said head coach Dave Tippett.
But it’s not that simple. Whether it’s a lack of focus, conditioning or anything else, the Coyotes need to find ways to win games. They lost valuable points on Saturday and that, historically, has come back to haunt them.