4-goal second period from Vegas dooms Coyotes in blowout loss

·4 min read

The Vegas Golden Knights aren't quite having the kind of success this season that they're accustomed to since joining the NHL for the 2017-2018 season, but two things are true: This season is only just past the quarter mark, and Vegas has won 15 of 21 games all-time over the Coyotes.

That included Friday's blowout loss for the Coyotes, who got Travis Boyd's career high sixth goal of the season in the first period but fell 7-1 to the Golden Knights at Gila River Arena.

Max Pacioretty scored twice, his 10th and 11th career goals against the Coyotes, and Arizona (5-17-2) lost for the fourth time in the past five games. Vegas scored two goals in 55 seconds of the second period, making its 2-on-1 chances count and turning a one-goal game through the first 20 minutes into a runaway win.

What was perhaps of larger concern was that the Coyotes had been very competitive in recent games, seemingly having turned a corner in understanding their identity and how they have to win and keep games close. But against a Golden Knights team that had lost two straight, that effort was not consistently present on Friday.

"It's a little bit of a step back for sure," Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said. "It’s frustrating. We take a lot of pride in being a team who is tough to play against. You need to earn it, you need to work to play against us, and when you give an odd-man rush, when you get beat up the ice, it’s not tough to play against. It’s free scoring chances. It’s free offense. It’s a dream for an offensive player to be able to create those chances.

"We want to stay away from that. I think we're better than that."

Boyd tied the game at 7:51 of the first, his fourth goal in the past six games, with Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel providing assists. But that was it for the Coyotes, who watched four goals get past goaltender Karel Vejmelka in the second period alone.

Kessel and Keller each reached the 10-assist mark on the season. Keller has recorded 10 points (3-7-10) in his last eight games.

Boyd recorded the 50th point of his career, and said playing with offensive talents in Keller and Kessel on his line has helped him score goals.

Arizona has been outscored 35-8 in the second period this season. The seven goals allowed for the game was the most an opponent has scored since the Coyotes' 7-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 18 in the third game of the season.

The six-goal loss matched the largest deficit in a loss, along with an 8-2 defeat to open the season in Columbus on Oct. 14.

Vejmelka was coming off his first career shutout on Nov. 29, and back-to-back wins. He'd only allowed five goals in his previous three starts and one in his last two.

But he didn't get a lot of help on defense, and one of the Golden Knights' goals was shorthanded.

"Look, they’re a great team over there and they’ve got a lot of skill and we just got beat up the ice a ton. I mean, look at all their goals, all their goals were off the rush, and they were beating us up the ice all night, had odd man opportunities," Boyd said. "At the end of the day we just can’t give up that many opportunities for them. Eventually they’re going to bury them and you saw that (Friday)."

'Bear' track

Tourigny said the worst part of losing the way the Coyotes did Friday was that it was in front of a home crowd. It's notable that there were also a good amount of Golden Knights fans in attendance as well.

Up next

The Coyotes go on the road for just one game next week, a Monday night contest at Dallas. The Stars defeated the Coyotes 3-2 on Nov. 27 at Gila River Arena.

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rough second period sends Coyotes to 4th loss in 5 agames

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