Advertisement

Third period collapse leads to 10th straight loss for Coyotes

There were times when it looked like the Arizona Coyotes would snap the ongoing slump, but then the Edmonton Oilers provided a rude awakening.

Four unanswered goals in the third period not only decimated the Coyotes’ lead, but handed them their 10th consecutive loss in Monday’s 6-3 final at Mullett Arena.

"We did a lot of good things," head coach André Tourigny said. "We played against an elite team in a tough schedule and we break down for five minutes and we could not stop the bleeding."

Clayton Keller made it interesting early in the second when his slap shot on the power play tied the game at 2-2. Nick Bjugstad then capped off that momentum with his second goal for a 3-2 lead at 10:52.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) and Arizona Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11) and Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) battle along the boards during the third period at Mullett Arena.
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) and Arizona Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11) and Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) battle along the boards during the third period at Mullett Arena.

But the Oilers fired back in an effort led by Evander Kane’s two goals in the third period.

“We knew they were going to come and that’s a good team. We put two good periods against them and stuck to our game plan but then kind of got away from it. They scored on us and kept coming," Bjugstad said. "The moral of the story these last 10 games is we’re in them and we’re not finding ways to play the whole 60 minutes. It’s pretty cliche and simple, but it seems to be very difficult for all of us.”

The Coyotes (23-28-4) will have little time to regroup and finish the homestand with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday at 8 p.m. before heading on a five-game road trip.

Trial by fire

Goaltender Matt Villalta made his first NHL start and it wasn’t light work. Villalta was called up from the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League on Friday as Connor Ingram deals with a lower-body injury. Villalta made his debut that night against the Carolina Hurricanes in relief of Karel Vejmelka and stopped all four shots he faced.

The 24-year-old earned his first start in one of the toughest tasks in the league, facing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, two of the league’s most prolific scorers.

Villalta was tested early in the first with two goals on eight shots. He was victim to unlucky situations, including a penalty kill within the first two minutes and a screen from Mattias Janmark and Coyotes defenseman JJ Moser that allowed Janmark to deflect Brett Kulak’s shot for a 2-1 lead.

Villalta settled down in the second, but then faced more pressure in the third. He finished his day with 20 saves on 25 shots.

"They had three scoring chances and three goals right there and it's not on our goalie," Tourigny said. "They put traffic in the net and they're a tough team to play against."

Getting tested early

Considering the short turnaround from the 4-3 loss in Colorado the day before, the Coyotes could have been sluggish in the first period.

But aside from an early penalty that led to Draisaitl scoring for the Oilers in the first two minutes, the Coyotes showed the same response from the previous game. Bjugstad had plenty of time and space before sending his shot past Stuart Skinner at 4:15, kickstarting more opportunities for quality shifts from the Coyotes.

Dylan Guenther, who has five points in his first nine home games, was consistently getting his stick in plays and had three attempts blocked.

Late collapse

The Coyotes lost momentum after a delayed penalty was called in the first four minutes, giving way to Kane’s wrist shot tying the game at 4:28 in the third.

The pressure soon mounted and Villalta was buried with opportunities, leading to Zach Hyman scoring his 33rd goal of the season 26 seconds later for a 4-3 lead. Kane’s second goal at 6:31 made the back-and-forth affair a reach.

"We were just taking time and space away from them. We know who they got over there and they're going to get their chances, but we want to make sure we're not sitting back and letting them create," Bjugstad said. "I thought we did that in the first two periods, but it's tough in the room right now. We got to figure it out, it's very frustrating. Myself included, I think we would do just about anything for a win right now."

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Coyotes dealt 10th straight loss by Edmonton Oilers