Phoenix Coyotes vs Colorado Avalanche: Coyotes Settle for Tie in Critical Game

Mark BrownContributor IApril 2, 2011

Ray Whiitney (l) picked up  his 16th of the season aganst the Avs April 1
Ray Whiitney (l) picked up his 16th of the season aganst the Avs April 1Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Not the best part of the season to let one get away.

Fighting for their playoff lives, the Phoenix Coyotes battled back from two goals down, took a third period lead, but only witnessed that advantage wiped clean. If the Coyotes qualify for postseason play, this game may be important, because it demonstrated that if you're good, you need to put teams away.

Simply, Phoenix did not do that against Colorado April 1.

Scoring with their only shot of the third period with less four and half minutes left in the final session, the Avalanche managed to tie, and eventually defeated Phoenix 4-3 in a shootout. Ryan O'Reily scored the tying goal and the only goal in the shootout, and the Coyotes lost a valuable point in the standings before 15,739 at Arena.

"We certainly did not play good enough for a game at this time of the season," said Ray Whitney, who scored the equalizer early in the third period. "Sometimes, execution is not where you want it to be."

Limiting the opposition to one shot in a period would foreshadow success. Somehow in the scheme of things, that did not work out for the Coyotes. With a tie in the standings, Colorado continues with just four wins in their last 28 games.

On the verge of a postseason position, the Coyotes started out against the Avs sluggish, out-of-sync and listless. Yet, as good teams are supposed to do, the Coyotes rallied from two goals down, and took the lead 3-2 on a goal from captain Shane Doan at 12:23 of the final period.

They, they could not hold that margin, and the O'Reily, picking up a loose puck in his skates, beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrist shot to send this one into overtime. Then, O'Reily picked up the game winner in the shootout and the Avs secured only their seventh standing point in their last 17 games.

"We came out flat and didn't get our legs until late in the second," said Lee Stempniak, who scored in the late in the seond period and only his third goal in his last 30 games. "We're pretty good at protecting leads, we let them back, and they were able to get the two points."

Because the Coyotes were able to pick up only the one point, they move to 96 on the season, and two points ahead of Los Angeles. However, the Kings have two games in hand, and the Coyotes and L.A. meet April 6 at the Staples Center. By that time, Phoenix hopes to get several injuried players back, and be refreshed after four days off.

"This is an unique part of the season," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We have several days off and hope to get three of the four back. We'll have two days off, practice hard Monday and Tuesday and then be ready for L.A."

Conversely, the layoff can have a negative effect.

"With time off now, other teams can catch up," Whitney added. "Who knows, we could slip down in the standings by the time of our next game."

Tippett indicated Tyler Pyatt, Lauri Korpikoski and Ed Jovanovski should return for the Kings games, while Martin Hanzal continues to be sidelined with a lower body injury.

The Coyotes have three games remaining. In addition to the Kings contest, they have a home-and-home set with San Jose. The first one is Arena April 8 and then in San Jose the following night.