Arizona Coyotes Drop Fifth Straight Game Against Dallas

Mar 24, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal (11) screens Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal (11) screens Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Coyotes lost their fifth straight game, falling to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night

The Arizona Coyotes continue to struggle.

In front a larger than usual crowd on Student Rush night at Gila River Arena in Glendale, the Coyotes fell to the Dallas Stars, 3-2, making it five straight losses.

The Coyotes (11-19-5) came into the night looking to get their first win on their current three game home stand. The Stars (15-14-7) came into Gila River Arena on a delayed schedule following mechanical issues with the team charter, that landed them in Phoenix at 2:00 PM. They arrived at the arena at 4:50, just about two hours prior to puck drop. But they still found a way to chip out a victory over Arizona.

The first period did not see much action at all. There were no penalties and the shots were 7-5, Dallas.

Things were quite different when the second period got underway.

Jason Spezza started the scoring for the Stars as he converted on a short-handed goal, his seventh of the season, to give the Stars the upper hand. It was only the third shorthanded goal in his 14-year career.

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Just 49 seconds later, Anthony Duclair finally broke his slump and converted for his first goal in 22 games. It was only his second goal on the season.

The goal came off a broken play, which resulted in Duclair whacking away at Kari Lehtonen’s pads until the puck crossed the line, tying the game at 1.

Stars captain and second leading scorer, Jamie Benn, gave the Stars the lead at the 12:03 mark of the period. The dangerous forward power play unit of Spezza, Benn and Tyler Seguin ended up haunting the Coyotes all night long.

Seguin’s shot was a slap pass that ended up on Benn’s stick and he tapped the puck past Mike Smith, who finished the night with 26 saves.

But above the scoring and solid play from the Stars, it was Mike Smith who stole the show on Tuesday night.

Inside two minutes of the second period, Radek Faksa went in for a rebound as Smith covered the puck, and Smith shoved Faksa in the face, causing a yard sale on the ice.

At one point Smith even yelled, “You want to go?”

Smith has become notorious for playing with fire and defending himself when he really has to. He dropped his glove and blocker and was ready to start throwing hay-makers at Faksa.

Faksa, who had a smile on his face throughout the whole process, never received a punch from Smith, as the referees stepped in to make sure further madness didn’t ensue.

At the end of the whole mess, a total of 18 penalty minutes were assessed, four of which were Smith’s.

His attempt to spark the Arizona Coyotes heading into the third period did not work.

The Stars stepped all over the Coyotes in the third period, and capped it off with an unfortunate bounce off the boards that ended up going into the empty net. John Klingberg for Dallas got credit for the goal.

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Radim Vrbata was awarded a penalty shot with 6.6 seconds left in the game. The leading shootout scorer in NHL history went to his traditional forehand-backhand move over the blocker of Lehtonen, giving him his ninth goal of the season.

But it was too late.

Lehtonen finished the night 35 solid saves, while Dallas as a team blocked 18 total shots.

View from the 200 level

It was ugly. I knew from the puck drop that something interesting was going to happen in the game. I didn’t know what, but figured it was going to raise eyebrows and be interesting.

It happened with Mike Smith going after Faksa.

That was the only thing interesting that came out of the game. The Arizona Coyotes continue to find ways to stop and make unnecessary drop passes before entering the zone.

I was not impressed at all with Arizona in this game.

They had an opportunity to step on the Stars, but didn’t. The Stars got into Phoenix on a late schedule and didn’t go through a proper game day routine. The Coyotes did, but still played slower and less energetic than the Stars. Unacceptable.

Getting a goal for Duclair was a must. He needed one so badly, and now that he has that one off his back, hopefully he can be the Duclair that Coyotes fans know and love.

I was also impressed with the turnout of the crowd. On a Tuesday night when fans have the option to go downtown to Chase Field and watch the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, they came to Glendale instead.

Smith’s outburst, Duclair, and crowd turnout is what impressed me. You know it’s bad when that’s the extent of the good news.

Players of the Game

Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn

You have to see it with your own two eyes to see how special Jamie Benn is.

Watching on television doesn’t do it. He chewed up Coyotes defenders on Tuesday and made them look silly. The 27-year old captain has nothing but bright success ahead of him and it was a pleasure to watch him perform.

The Stars, as a whole, are scary. The power play of Spezza, Seguin, Benn, along with Klingberg and Patrick Eaves makes for an entertaining two minutes. Eaves takes up tons of space in front of the net, while the filthy skill of the three all stars do their thing with the puck. It makes you wonder why the Stars are in only 4th place in the Pacific division.

Arizona Coyotes: Mike Smith

Smith was the only one who showed up for the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Yes, it was huge for Duclair to get his first goal in 22 games, but that isn’t going to be what carries the Coyotes for the future. Smith and the goaltending will.

His display with Faksa really told me something about the 34-year old.

He is absolutely frustrated, as he should be.

The Arizona Coyotes have all the talent in the world to win. Hockey has become a young man’s game, where youth is needed to win hockey games. The Coyotes have a multitude of young kids who have nothing but bright futures.

But something is not there.

Hopefully Smith will continue to do all he can and get some help from his teammates. Because if things keep going this way, Smith will not continue to be nice in front of the microphones and cameras.

Next: Vrbata Leading The Way For Arizona

What’s Next

The Coyotes will wrap up their three game home stand on Thursday night, as the New York Rangers make their one and only trip to Gila River Arena.