Growing pains evident on Coyotes’ winless road trip
NEW YORK — The excitement of a new season and a youth-injected roster has given way to the reality of all that implies. If you thought the Coyotes would jump out to a fast start, pat yourself on the back for unbridled optimism, but then buckle up for a decent dose of disappointment.
Arizona is asking five rookies and four sophomores to play major roles in its lineup, and the NHL didn’t do the team any favors by casting it out on a six-game road trip just after the official pucks were dropped.
The Coyotes showed character to battle back from an early two-goal deficit on the back end of back-to-back games on Friday in Brooklyn, but tired legs, an impotent power play and a soft goal in the third period led to a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, dropping Arizona to 0-3 on this road trip with three games still left to play.
“We competed hard but you’ve got to find ways to win in this league,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The latest bullets came from the double-barrel shotgun of center Brad Richardson and goalie Louis Domingue. Richardson, who has been one of the team’s better players this season, lost a defensive zone faceoff to Brock Nelson with just 14 seconds left on a third-period Coyotes power play.
Nelson drew the puck back to defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his knuckler eluded Domingue’s waffle glove through a partial screen for the game-winner.
“That’s a shot that probably should be stopped,” Tippett said. “On those goals, you always go back to the play but really we just get a stop there and you don’t even look at it again.”
The Coyotes could have enjoyed a better fate if their power play had found a way to click. New York jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and Ryan Strome, who played against his brother, Dylan, for the first time in an organized game.
The Coyotes scored twice in a 13-second span of the second period to erase the deficit on Richardson’s second goal of the season and Radim Vrbata’s deflection of Jakob Chychrun’s shot from the point. But the Coyotes went 0 for 4 on the power play with just two shots on goal.
“We have to compete a little bit harder and get shots through to the net — go back to the basic stuff,” center Martin Hanzal said. “We’re trying to make a lot of sweet plays and it doesn’t work. We have to get shots through to the net and get bodies in front of the net. We haven’t been doing that and that’s why we’re not scoring goals.”
The Coyotes are not getting offense from wings Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, either. The two have combined for one assist and a minus-8 rating through four games.
One of the few positives on Friday was the return of defenseman Michael Stone, who has been out about seven months after surgery on his torn left ACL and MCL. Tippett liked Stone’s performance playing alongside Alex Goligoski, particularly considering the length of his layoff.
Stone just liked being on the ice.
“It sucks watching,” he said.
It’s early in the season, and Tippett noted that he is still learning a lot about his team, but the Coyotes fan base could probably steal Stone’s one-liner after four games to describe their own feelings.
“We have to keep working at it,” Tippett said. “Lots of opportunity for them to get out of it.”
Note: The Coyotes waived defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who was eligible to come off suspension on Sunday. He will report to Tucson if he clears so the Coyotes’ seven-man defensive roster appears set for now.