Arizona Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith needed a slump breaker and the visiting Colorado Avalanche, at least on paper, seemed like a good candidate. Smith was 0-5-1 in his last six-starts going into Tuesday’s night contest against the visiting Avalanche and his teammates gave him a 3-0 cushion in the first period. But the much maligned goaltender regressed into his recent level of work and surrendered 4 straight goals in an overtime loss.
“We had a good handle on the game after the first period and let it get away,” Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone said. “Even after the second period, we didn’t have as good of a period as the first, but we were still up two goals, so it doesn’t feel good when we go into the third period and blow leads.”
The Coyotes jumped out to a 3-0 lead within the first 10:00 minutes of the opening period. At 3:36 Antoinne Vermette misdirected a Michael Stone slap shot for his sixth goal of the year. It was the Arizona’s first shot of the game and a harbinger of good fortune that didn’t last. At 10:20 Stone took a slap shot from approximately 50-feet away that clipped the shoulder of an Colorado defender and floated past Avalanche goalie Reto Barra. More good fortune and a Coyotes 2-0 advantage. 33-seconds later Coyotes’ center Tobias Rieder scored his second goal of the season and Arizona had a 3-0 lead on eight-shots.
Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy pulled Barra after he surrendered the third goal and replaced him with Calvin Pickard and he was perfect the rest of the way, as he stopped 25-shots for his second win of the year.
“It’s not a first for him (Pickard) I guess,” Roy said. “He did a really good job against Carolina the other night and tonight, I mean, he was again perfect. I mean, you have to give it to him. He battles out there and he competes. And he deserves a lot of credit for his play right now.”
The Avalanche’s comeback was spearheaded by a pair of goals from forward Gabriel Landeskog, one in the second and third periods. Colorado’s game tying goal was both fortuitous and possibly an allegory for the Coyotes’ season thus far. At 4:05 in the third period Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson attempted a pass from behind Arizona’s goal that clipped the ankle of of Coyotes’ forward Lauri Korpikoski and was redirected past Smith.
Arizona’s offensive ineptitude continued through the remainder of regulation and into overtime. Then again the Coyote’ offense did rise to the occasion, unfortunately they shot it into their own goal. 3:16 into overtime Arizona defenseman Martin Hanzal deflected a pass from the Avalnache’s Daniel Briere that made it past Smith for a 4-3 win. It was the first time since February 1, 2011 that Arizona had blown a 3-0 lead.
“When you shoot it in your own net, that’s a bad break up,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said.
So in summation the Coyotes scored three-goals for themselves and two for the other team. Maybe they were starting Christmas early by giving away games. It was an embarrassing loss but there weren’t a lot of witnesses at Gila River Arena, 12,163 patrons braved the elements to see their team drop to 9-11-3 (21-points). Colorado improved to 8-10-5 with the win.
The Coyotes get a few days off to relax, enjoy Thanksgiving and face the retail bonanza of Black Friday. On Saturday, November 29 Arizona hosts the Calgary Flames and the puck drops at 8:00 pm (MST).