Tonight, the Phoenix Coyotes played against the Minnesota Wild and fell short of trying to tie up the game late on. With a final score of 4-3 for the Wild.
The first period, the possession and play was dictated by the Coyotes. However, the Wild scored 2 goals on 4 shots to give them a 2-0 lead going into the second period. The first goal was a defensive breakdown by the Yotes that allowed Jason Zucker to be all alone right in front of Mike Smith to tip in a nice shot pass by Matt Cullen for the one nothing lead on the first shot of the hockey game for the Wild. The second goal also came off of a rush for the wild when Dany Heatley walked in on Mike Smith and sniped the near side post for the second goal of the game. In my opinion, that is one that Smith has to save. Of course, it’s not a bad goal given up...but at the same time, elite goalies will make saves like that to keep their team close. At that point there were 4 shots on goal for the Wild, for a 50% save percentage. If not for these two rush goals, the Coyotes outplayed the Wild and kept possession and flow on their side. Paul Bissonnette had a fight with former Coyote, Mike Rupp. I would say that Rupp got the better in the fight with his big size and a couple of bombs. However, it was a smart fight for Biznasty to take, as he had just played his shift and the fourth line was called for an icing. This allowed the Yotes to get a little bit of a rest and also replace a tired Biznasty for the next shift. Whether he intended to do all that or not is another matter ha. The period ended with 11 shots on goal for the Yotes and 7 for the Wild.
The second period was a change in the tide. The Wild took over the play of the game and added another 2 goals against the Yotes. The first goal, following a power play chance, Heatley scored off a shot in the slot while wide open again. The Coyotes continue to struggle leaving opponents open in the most dangerous part of the ice. After that goal, the Coyotes continued to lose a lot of puck battles as the Wild continued to have their way. The second Wild goal of the period came during a power play in which the Coyotes failed to clear the zone and Jared Spurgeon slid in through Smith’s five-hole for a goal. However, the Yotes managed to score a goal when they were down 3-0 courtesy of a feed from Kyle Chipchura to Rusty Klesla for a backhand goal. In hockey, the teams earn their breaks, and nothing has been going the Coyote’s in this game.
The third period was a combination of the first two periods in a way. The Yotes started the period by pulling Smith and putting in Jason LaBarbera. Good move in my opinion, as the team needed something to motivate them to pick up their game. The Coyotes had their stretches of good play and the Wild had theirs. Much of the period went by without much ado. The Wild were probably happy with how the period was going by until a extremely lucky goal by Keith Yandle. He tried to dump it in, but the puck hit the board and bounced in behind Minnesota Goalie Backstrom. Then, with just under a minute left in the game, Doan found himself in the slot and put a nice shot into the net to bring the Coyotes within one with the goalie pulled. However, it was too little too late. The final was a 4-3 Wild victory.
Normally I don’t like to comment on the officiating in most of the games. However, tonight was really the most inconsistent I have seen the officiating in a long time. What wasn’t a penalty early in the game became one later in the game, or vice versa. Furthermore, the officials did not do a good job at keeping it even for the whole game. However, I also believe that the players who get called on penalties normally put themselves into that bad position to earn the penalty.
Smith did not look strong in this game at all. He has been just like the rest of the Coyotes this season. One game he will look pretty good and the next he will be very average. I don’t think he has gotten anywhere near his top form. I don’t know what reason there may be for him not being able to get up to that level play again. However, if the Coyotes want to make the playoffs, they will need him to step up his play and help the team win games that they otherwise would lose.
That’s it for tonight. The Coyotes will take on the resurgent Anaheim Ducks this Saturday. Until then…ciao!