The Arizona Coyotes appeared to be on the fast track toward earning their first postseason berth since the 2011-12 season before stumbling over the last month.
The Coyotes have lost 11 of their last 14 contests overall (3-7-4) and seven of eight on the road (1-6-1) heading into the finale of their four-game East Coast trek against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Defenseman Jakob Chychrun appeared to have given Arizona back-to-back victories at 1:30 into overtime on Tuesday, however his goal was overturned for goaltender interference on Derek Stepan.
The penalty proved costly, as Toronto scored on a partial breakaway later in the session to complete a 3-2 victory.
“I don’t know, there’s nothing to (say). … They made the call, we live with it, that’s what it is,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet told reporters.
Christian Dvorak scored his sixth goal in 10 games on Tuesday and Chychrun had an assist to extend his point streak to five games (two goals, three assists).
“I thought we played a pretty solid game for the most part, it was a tough bounce there at the end,” the 24-year-old Dvorak said. “It would have been nice to get that extra point. I think we’re playing a lot better now (in the past two games) than a few games ago so I think it’s a good sign but there’s not too many moral victories around here at this time of year.”
Conor Garland, who leads the team with 19 goals, scored what proved to be the game-winning tally midway into the second period in Arizona’s 5-2 victory over Ottawa on Oct. 19. Garland wasn’t done, however, as he provided insurance by setting up Carl Soderberg’s power-play goal early in the third period.
The slumping Senators dropped a 3-0 decision to Colorado on Tuesday, marking their sixth straight loss (0-4-2) and 16th in their last 18 contests (2-9-7).
Anthony Duclair, who shares the team lead in goals with Jean-Gabriel Pageau (21), has struggled mightily in that stretch. The 24-year-old Duclair is mired in an 18-game goal drought entering the opener of Ottawa’s six-game homestand.
Nick Paul appeared to solve Philipp Grubauer late in the second period after Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog’s hit knocked both the Ottawa forward and the loose puck into the net. Off-ice officials in Toronto ruled that it wasn’t a goal, however.
“I disagree for sure,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “But I’m not (a referee), so it is what it is. They’ve got a tough job and that’s the call they made.”
Paul took issue with the decision, and his colorful language brought about a momentum-killing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“Dumb penalty there, it’s on me,” the 24-year-old Paul said, per the Ottawa Sun. “I lost my cool a little bit, but other than that, I felt like my feet were moving. I was getting in front, laying the body, trying to create turnovers and I felt good.”
Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki is expected to return to the ice on Thursday. Borowiecki and his wife Tara welcomed their first child, son Miles, into the world on Sunday.
–Field Level Media