Just like it did last season, this year's contest between the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers took a shootout to determine a winner. This time, the Panthers emerged from the game with the two points, after Michael Frolik slipped the game-winner past Ilya Bryzgalov in the fith round of the shootout, giving Florida the 2-1 win.
In what was expected to be a high scoring game, at least for the Coyotes, the only two goals that were scored came in the second period. It was Frolik who tickled the twine, his fifth of the year, midway through the second to give the Panthers the edge. The Coyotes answered back later in the period, when Martin Hanzal converted on the power play to even the score.
It wasn't as if the Coyotes didn't have their chances. They had 41 shots on Florida backup Scott Clemmensen. While any sort of shooting was expected to produce for the Coyotes against a struggling Florida goaltending corps, Clemmensen was solid all night, stopping 40 of those 41 shots, on his way to earning first star of the game honors.
In the Phoenix net, Ilya Bryzgalov had a stellar game in his own right. Most didn't expect too much from a struggling Panthers offensive attack, but Bryz faced 37 shots on goal in regulation, stopping 36 of them.
In the end, it may have been the penalties that hurt the Coyotes yet again. In regulation, the Panthers were 0-for-2 on the power play, mustering up just one shot. While they failed to convert in the extra frame as well, playing down certainly hurt Phoenix's chances of winning it in overtime.
After starting a rush that gave the Coyotes a chance early, Ray Whitney was hit with a hooking call that sent him for the box for two. As Phoenix was inching closer to killing off Whitney's penalty, the refs got the Yotes for too many men on the ice, sending Taylor Pyatt to the box for the remainder of OT. The Coyotes spent the majority of the overtime trying to kill penalties, while really seeing only one chance on a two-on-one with Keith Yandle and Ed Jovanovski.
In the shootout, neither team was ready to budge, taking five rounds to decide the winner. Lee Stempniak was stoned by Clemmensen in the first, before Mike Santorelli slipped his five-hole past Bryzgalov. The Coyotes next two shooters, Radim Vrbata and Scottie Upshall, netted theirs, with Florida going 1-for-2 to force extra rounds.
Whitney and Florida's David Booth both failed to capitalize in the sudden death frame, but Clemmensen's stop of Lauri Korpikoski opened the door for Frolik to put it past Bryzgalov for the win.
While a loss like this is tough to stomach, the Coyotes do have some positives to take from this. Easily the better team throughout the night, Phoenix was simply the victim of a hot goaltender, which is a huge monster to deal with. Just ask the Chicago Blackhawks what they thought of Roberto Luongo on Friday night.
The Coyotes don't have much time to rebound from the loss. They'll head to Anaheim for a rematch of last weekend's loss to the Ducks, which ended their seven-game win streak.