Bad breaks cost Coyotes again in loss to Rangers

Oct 22, 2015, 8:09 PM
New York Rangers' Keith Yandle (93) defends Arizona Coyotes' Brad Richardson (12) during the first ...
New York Rangers' Keith Yandle (93) defends Arizona Coyotes' Brad Richardson (12) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK — The Coyotes are going to need plenty of good fortune to compete for a playoff spot with a roster in transition. The first two games of this five-game road trip have featured the opposite kind of fortune.

Goalie Mike Smith’s pass from behind his net caromed off Rangers forward J.T. Miller’s skates and onto the backhand of New York wing Kevin Hayes for a gimme goal early in the third period. The goal broke a tie and broke a run of Arizona momentum as the Rangers posted a 4-1 victory on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. The loss was the fourth straight for the Coyotes (0-3-1) after a 3-0 start.

“Brutal play,” Smith said of the gaffe. “I heard someone call for it and it didn’t happen to be our player. I didn’t play the puck very well tonight at all and it ended up costing us.”

On Tuesday in New Jersey, the Coyotes lost in 3-on-3 overtime when Devils defenseman Adam Larsson appeared to cross-check center Martin Hanzal in the lower back. Hanzal went down, New Jersey went the other way on a 3-on-1 and Larsson cashed in with the game-winning goal.

In that game, the Coyotes were sluggish at the start and that trend continued in New York. Arizona blocked a whopping nine shots in the first period and there was a reason for that gaudy stat.

“It’s an indication of poor execution leaving your zone,” coach Dave Tippett said. “It means you spend too much time there.”

Arizona didn’t register its first shot on goal until Shane Doan connected with 5:14 remaining in the first period, but by the time the second period had ended, the Coyotes were outshooting the Rangers 19-16 and tied, 1-1, thanks in part to Klas Dahlbeck’s second career NHL goal off a great assist from Max Domi.

“That seems to be the M.O. for the last few games is we get better as the game goes along,” Doan said. “We need to obviously start a lot better than we have and that starts probably with myself as one of the leaders. We’ve got to be ready to go.”

By the time the second period had ended, the pace that had been missing the past three games was back for some of the Coyotes, but Smith’s mistake killed that momentum. The Coyotes want Smith to play the puck whenever possible because it relieves pressure on the defense and forwards.

Tippett called the mistake unfortunate but he also pointed the blame squarely at forwards on the ice.

“You know what I want?” Tippett asked rhetorically. “I want the winger to get it out before it gets back to that situation. We had it on each wall and didn’t get it out.”

Mikkel Boedker and Tobias Rider were the wings on the ice for the goal.

“Smitty plays a lot of pucks,” Tippett said. “Unfortunately, that one didn’t turn out well.”

The bad breaks didn’t stop there. Former Coyote Keith Yandle scored on the power play about four minutes later when his shot from the point deflected off Rieder’s stick and bounced in off Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy’s shin pad for a 3-1 lead.

“Still lots of work to do,” Tippett said. “It’s unfortunate that we make a mistake outside the net and then they get a lucky bounce on the power play and that’s the difference in the game.”

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