Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and the minus in the 4-1 loss to the Capitals.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith and center Jordan Martinook react to the 4-1 loss. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Panthers.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the 3-1 loss.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-3 win over the Lightning. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coach Dave Tippett, winger Radim Vrbata, winger Christian Fischer and winger Anthony Duclair react to the 5-3 win. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Predators.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, winger Jamie McGinn and defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-0 loss to the Blues.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Luke Schenn and goalie Mike Smith react to the loss on Saturday at Gila River Arena. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the loss.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 shootout win over the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and winger Max Domi react to the 3-2 shootout win against the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 1-0 win over the Avalanche, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, captain Shane Doan and winger Brendan Perlini react to the win, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 win over the Devils on Saturday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo react to the 5-4 win on Saturday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Senators.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, winger Lawson Crouse and winger Brendan Perlini react to the 3-2 overtime loss.
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Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata is set to play his 1,000th game Thursday against the Senators.
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The Arizona Coyotes Foundation held their annual golf tournament for charity at the Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Players Shane Doan, Max Domi and Brendan Perlini comment.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday in Glendale.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Max Domi and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the 2-1 loss on Sunday in Glendale. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-2 win over the Hurricanes.
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Coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, center Jordan Martinook and goalie Louis Domingue react to the win.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 6-3 loss to the Sabres on Thursday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Alex Goligoski, winger Tobias Rieder and winger Teemu Pulkkinen react to the loss on Thursday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes General Manager John Chayka, winger Radim Vrbata and captain Shane Doan discuss the two players staying with Arizona.
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and azcentral’s Craig Harris discuss the latest on the Coyotes’ search for an arena and the Diamondbacks’ feud with the county over Chase Field.
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Alex Goligoski and winger Radim Vrbata react to the loss against the Stars, Feb. 24, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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The Washington Capitals hosted United Arab Emirates native and hockey phenom Fatima Al Ali.
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Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Arizona Coyotes’ Shane Doan. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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For the first time, the Coyotes brought their dads on a road trip.
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Coyotes goalie Mike Smith reflects on his experience at the NHL All-Star Game on Monday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes captain Shane Doan discusses the possibility of seeking a trade this season. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Capitals
Capitals pull away from Coyotes with 3-goal third
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Panthers
Unusual goal sparks Panthers to win over Coyotes
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Lightning
Coyotes rally past the Lightning
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Predators
Coyotes open road trip with 3-1 loss to Predators
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues
Coyotes shut out 3-0 by the Blues
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Red Wings
Coyotes clipped by Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings
Coyotes outlast Kings in 11-round shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Avalanche
Coyotes blank Avalanche 1-0
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Devils
Coyotes hold off Devils in third period
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Senators
Senators rally past Coyotes for overtime win
Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata reaches 1,000-game milestone
Arizona Coyotes Foundation Golf Tournament 2017
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Hurricanes rally past Coyotes with late third-period goal
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Coyotes react to road win over Hurricanes
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Sabres
Coyotes react to their 6-3 loss to the Sabres
Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan remain with Coyotes after NHL trade deadline
Shot Clock: Could they leave? Latest on Coyotes’ arena situation
Stars rally past Coyotes for 5-2 win
Hockey phenom from UAE takes the ice with the Capitals
Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Shane Doan
Coyotes bring their dads on the road to San Jose
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith on memorable All-Star Game experience
Coyotes captain Shane Doan not ruling out trade possibility
WASHINGTON – With each team repping opposite ends of the standings, calling the second-to-last Coyotes’ clash with the NHL-leading Capitals a litmus test might not be as accurate as labeling it a teachable moment for a young group.
Either Arizona would learn how to compete with a premier team, a valuable reminder for a struggling organization no matter what time of the season it is, by doing what it takes. Or it’d learn by doing the opposite.
And after stumbling to a 4-1 final Saturday at Verizon Center, the Coyotes received their lesson via the latter.
“You can’t be in awe of the best teams in the league,” goalie Mike Smith said. “You gotta take it as a challenge and elevate your game and not go the other way. I don’t know if that was the case tonight. We have so many young guys in the lineup and not a lot of veteran guys. When the push is on, it’s hard to get lines going out there and changing momentum swings.”
BOX SCORE: Capitals 4, Coyotes 1
Many eye-openers were packed into the first period with a poor start being perhaps the most glaring takeaway.
The Capitals outshot the Coyotes 12-3, building an early cushion and gobbling up all the control to establish a lopsided feel – a vibe that very much reflected a No. 1 team vs. No. 29.
“I thought we were brutal in the first period, to be real honest,” coach Dave Tippett said.
Washington capitalized on its first power play when captain Alex Ovechkin ripped a shot past Smith from his usual post in the left faceoff circle at 8:31 of the first. The goal was Ovechkin’s 30th of the season and in reaching the plateau, he became just the third player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first 12 seasons – joining Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner.
“Everyone knows it’s his spot,” Smith said. “It’s just funny how the puck ends up getting there, and no one’s close to him.”
MORE: Coyotes use free time on road to explore
After that, center Nicklas Backstrom had a look alone in front that Smith gobbled up. The Capitals had another power play, this one a four-minute advantage after Ovechkin was high-sticked by defenseman Connor Murphy, and although they hemmed the Coyotes in their own zone for much of the opportunity, they couldn’t convert again and finished 1-for-4. Arizona was 0-for-4.
“We just didn’t execute,” Tippett said. “When you can’t put two passes together, that means the puck’s turned over a lot and the other team plays with the puck. They’re high skill. They’re a good team. If you’re not willing to make sure you do the right things with the puck, you’re going to be chasing the game. That’s where we were.”
Later in the period, Smith stopped a Kevin Shattenkirk shot off a 2-on-0 rush and then a short-handed breakaway by center Jay Beagle with seconds to go went wide.
“I was just trying to be solid in there and keep it close,” said Smith, who racked up 29 saves. “I think that’s definitely not the type of hockey that we want to be known for in the first period there. … To come in this building against this team, to have a first period like we did tonight was pretty sad.”
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Smith was just as steady in the second period, making 14 saves, and his play was the reason why the Coyotes trailed by only one early in the third. By then, the players in front of Smith had some jump in their stride – putting 11 shots on net in the second – and were eventually able to tie it at 12:29 when center Peter Holland buried a rebound off an Anthony Duclair shot with the scoring chance a byproduct of Duclair’s speed.
“Anthony was good,” Tippett said. “He was one of the few players in the first period I thought was good. He had a pretty good night.”
But Washington persevered with a pair of goals in 32 seconds. The first came at 15:21, a rising shot off the rush by winger Daniel Winnik. Winger Justin Williams added an insurance market at 15:53 with a slap shot before Winnik scored an empty-netter with 1:39 to go.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby finished with 28 saves.
“We made a couple poor reads by our defensemen, and it cost us the game,” Tippett said.
The win improved the Capitals to 106 points, tops in the league and 43 more than the Coyotes have, and although they had to shake off the Coyotes in the third, their poise when it mattered was a telltale sign of an elite team. That’s probably a nod to the confidence players have in their talent, but the other lesson the Coyotes seemed to pry away from this loss was how much hard work factors into the equation.
“It wasn’t about skill,” Smith said. “It was about compete, having pride in the game, playing an honest game and we didn’t come out with that at all in the first period. As the game went on, we got better. But the effort level in the first was minimal.”
The ability to execute is key, too, another disparity that was on display.
But the chance to complete those plays has to be there to start with, and that usually is determined by hustle.
“You gotta outwork them and when the play’s there to get made, you have to make it,” center Jordan Martinook said. “You gotta take care of the puck because if you keep giving it back to them, they’re going to be coming full speed. It just comes down to work ethic.”
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8276. Follow her at twitter.com/azc_mclellan.
Capitals winger Daniel Winnik scored twice.
The Capitals moved ahead 2-1 at 15:21 of the third period on a goal off the rush by Winnik.
2 goals by the Capitals in 32 seconds by the Capitals in the third period.
View from the press box
The score finally caught up to the feel of the game with the Coyotes absorbing a three-goal loss, but the margin of defeat could have been much worse based off how the Coyotes debuted. They struggled to clear the blue line, gain the offensive zone and simply string passes in between. It took an impressive showing by goalie Mike Smith to keep the deficit at only one by the time the period ended. And even though the players found their legs as the game progressed, a better start should be on the Coyotes’ radar their next time out.