DALLAS — The Phoenix Coyotes are no longer alone as the second wild card, as the 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars has put the two teams in a virtual tie as both teams head into the Olympic break.
This was a great opportunity for the Coyotes (27-21-10) to create some separation, but instead they’ve done just the opposite. The Stars (27-21-10) broke through first, as Ray Whitney scored his seventh goal of the year at 2:10 of the first period, assisted by Jordie Benn and Brendon Dillon. The Coyotes would get just four shots on goal and would have their first power play killed off.
The second period was more of the same, with the Coyotes getting one unsuccessful power play, but they did find the net more often, getting 10 shots on net. Dallas extended the lead to 2-0 at 19:26 of the period, on a snap shot by Valeri Nichushkin, his 13th goal of the season. The goal was assisted by Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn.
The Coyotes were able to continue the pressure in the third period, going on the power play twice. Unfortunately, they couldn’t break through until 19:44 of the period, when it was much too late. Radim Vrbata scored his 15th goal of the season, assisted by Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle.
Mike Smith saved 31-of-33 shots he faced, including nine on the power play. The Coyotes did a great job of killing all five of the Stars power plays, although it ended up being a moot point at the end.
Coyotes by the Numbers
- 7 – Zbynek Michalek blocked seven shots, with the team blocking 18.
- 27 percent – The Coyotes won just 27 percent of faceoffs while on the penalty kill.
- 0 – Amount of Coyotes players who finished with a plus rating.
Mike Smith did everything he could to keep the Coyotes in the game, including stopping 31 shots. He faced pressure all night, as in addition to the 31 shots he stopped, there were 18 that were blocked and 23 more that missed. Smith did stop all nine shots on the power play and couldn’t have done anything more.
Runt of the Litter
Oliver Ekman-Larsson played the most minutes of any player in the game (28:59) but did very little. He got only one of his seven attempts on goal, with four of his shots blocked and two completely missing. He also had a giveaway to void out his takeaway.
The Coyotes are on the Olympic break and won’t play again until Thursday, February 27 in Winnipeg.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the Sports Illustrated/Fansided NBA site HoopsHabit.com and the Arizona Sports site HeatWaved.com. He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic. Follow me on Twitter @DunlapNBA.