Coyotes’ spiral reaches 8 games with loss to Hurricanes: ‘We need to be more detailed’

Feb 16, 2024, 10:58 PM

Karel Vejmelka...

(L-R) Jordan Martinook #48, Brett Pesce #22, Seth Jarvis #24 and Brady Skjei #76 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate after Martinook scored a goal against goaltender Karel Vejmelka #70 of the Arizona Coyotes during the first period of the NHL game at Mullett Arena on February 16, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Missed chances and a costly turnover doomed the Arizona Coyotes to their eighth consecutive loss on Friday, 5-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes at Mullett Arena.

The Coyotes (23-26-4, 50 points) have not won a game since Jan. 22, before the All-Star break, and have picked up one point in that span. Their wild card prospects have free fallen. They are 10 points back of the St. Louis Blues (60 points) in the second spot with four teams ahead of them.

It took Carolina (31-17-5, 67 points) all of 16 seconds to take a lead it would never relinquish, as former Coyote Jordan Martinook was wide open in front of the net and delivered the ninth-fastest goal to start a game in team history.

But after falling behind 2-0 five minutes in, the Coyotes were the faster, more aggressive squad for much of the opening period. Dylan Guenther cut the deficit in half with his fifth goal of the season, while the Coyotes came inches away from tying the game, literally.

Michael Carcone’s breakaway was stopped by goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, who saved 30 of 31 shots on Friday. The period ended with a power play opportunity awaiting the Coyotes at the start of the second.

That’s the best it got for Arizona, which squandered two power play chances with only five shots on net during the second period.

Nick Schmaltz lost the puck as Arizona attempted to escape its zone, which gifted Carolina’s Seth Jarvis a clean look. He nailed it, top shelf past Karel Vejmelka to go up two goals in a deflating moment.

Vejmelka saved 21 of 26 shots on Friday.

Teuvo Teravainen’s rebound and finish extended the lead to 4-1 late in the second period, and another former Coyote, Michael Bunting, capped Friday’s scoring with the third period’s only goal.

“They’re a tough team to play in the second because the way the pressure, the way they don’t let you change and that’s what happened on the third goal, we couldn’t change,” head coach Andre Tourigny said. “We had a few turnovers in our zone, we were tired, our unit could not change and we didn’t execute on the two times we could break out the puck, Schmaltzy could not get it out and they scored to make it 3-1.

“I liked our answer in the third period, I like the way we kept battling. Obviously the way we started the game, it’s unfortunate. I think it’s not because we didn’t play well but we need to be more detailed and that’s on me and that’s my responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The Coyotes showed life in the final 20 minutes but missed some quality looks while Kochetkov continued to stop everything he could. A golden chance came as J.J. Moser exited the penalty box to got a breakaway, but Kochetkov dove for a poke check.

Tripping was called, but it prevented a goal as Arizona went 0-for-4 on the power play.

Arizona’s next four games come against teams currently in playoff position, with a back-to-back Sunday at the Colorado Avalanche and Monday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

NHL debut

Goaltender Matt Villalta replaced Vejmelka during the third period for his first taste of NHL action. The AHL leader in wins with 22 spent 13:39 on the ice and stopped all four shots he saw.

Villalta was recalled on an emergency basis while Connor Ingram is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The 24-year-old signed a two-way contract with the Coyotes last offseason after he parted ways with the Los Angeles Kings, who drafted him in the third round in 2017.

“The game aspect, not the result we’re looking for … but on a personal note, it’s something very special and a cool moment despite the loss tonight,” Villalta said. “Very thankful and fortunate for everyone who’s helped me thus far to get to this point and just tried to soak it all in as much as I could and stay in the moment at the same time.”

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