GLENDALE, AZ — A couple of posts hit, a bad bounce off a deflection in the final minutes, and a much better effort by the Arizona Coyotes in game two went by the wayside as the Colorado Avalanche took a commanding 2-0 series lead with a 3-2 win Friday.
"We had a good game. We could have won that hockey game," said Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. "Obviously the last goal we're not happy with, but for the most part, we had our chance to win that hockey game."
A harmless shot from the boards deflected off Jakob Chychrun's shin pad and on to the stick of Andre Burakovsky who had a wide open net to score the game-winning goal with 2:53 left in the third period.
Though the Coyotes never led in the game, they out-shot the Avalanche 32-28 and carried the play for large parts of the contest, a stark contrast from game one where Arizona was out-shot 40-14 and didn't look like they belonged on the same ice.
"I'd rather play that way, like get in their face," said Tocchet. "I challenged the team and they responded, they played well. We didn't get the result, but I liked the way we played."
Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game off of a Coyotes turnover in the neutral zone. Clayton Keller tied the game late in the first period off a feed from Taylor Hall that an Avalanche defenseman knocked over the goal line.
Colorado took another lead early in the second period off a Tyson Jost deflection from the point, but Michael Grabner tied it less than two minutes later, scoring his third goal of the postseason after being a healthy scratch for 22 games this season.
"The last couple of years I've been here, we always bounce back," said Grabner. "It's nice, quick turnaround, so we don't have to think about this loss too much. We gotta get ready for tomorrow and put the same effort out there and just score one more goal."
As a whole, the Coyotes liked their game two effort despite coming up short late.
"I think we just gotta find another gear for tomorrow," said Clayton Keller. "When the pressures on with three minutes left, we've got to play tight and we gotta put a puck in the net. They get one there, and I think we've got to try to find a better way to get one there late."
The Coyotes failed to capitalize on any of their four power plays in the game, and are now 0-for-6 in the series. Including the qualifying round against Nashville, the Coyotes power play is just 2-for-18.
"We were a little bit better," Tocchet said of the power play. "The really good power plays come up with second, third pucks. The retrievals are big, and sometimes we get the one shot, it gets blocked and it gets out. We've got to come up with those loose pucks, keep penalty killers tired on the ice. When they're out there defending a PK for 40, 50, 60 seconds, it's tough to PK. But when you only have to go out there for 20 seconds and it's out, it's easy, so we gotta be a little bit harder."
Falling in a two-game hole has not been kind to NHL teams historically. Teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series more than 86 percent of the time.
"They're a great team," said Conor Garland. "You gotta play a full 60 [minutes] obviously. I thought we made a good push there in the third, just came up short, but quick turnaround, [we've] just got to get focused on tomorrow."
Game 3 is Saturday at noon Arizona time. It is the only back-to-back scheduled in the series.