Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues attempts to control the puck under pressure from Martin Hanzal #11 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes (18-14-3) entered Fridays matchup on a two game winning streak after getting wins against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week and were looking to break the log jam atop the Pacific Division standings with the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, the Coyotes could not make it three in a row Friday night against a strong St.Louis Blues team (20-10-4).
Shane Doan would get his ninth of the year and Keith Yandle would add a goal late in the third, but it would not be enough for the Coyotes as they fell to the Blues 3-2. The Coyotes have now have a 5-3-1 record vs. St. Louis under Head Coach Dave Tippett.
With Mike Smith day-to-day with a lower body injury Jason LaBarbera started in net for the Coyotes. He had saved 42 out of 45 shots since taking over for Smith, but Friday would only face 18 shots and let in three goals.
"We've been banging our head against the wall trying to figure out why," coach Tippett said. "If you would have told me that by Christmas we'd be a game under .500, I would have been very surprised. That's something that's going to have to change."
Cal O'reilly has come on strong for the Coyotes after being inserted back into the lineup by coach Tippett. He registered an assist against the Blues Friday, giving him four points in five games after only registering an one assist in his first 13 games.
Before the game the Coyotes honored former captain Keith Tkachuk Friday night by retiring his number and adding his name to the Ring of Honor. Other inductees to the Ring of Honor include Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Teppo Numminen, and Wayne Gretzky. Tkachuk made huge contributions not only to the Coyotes organization but also to the sport of hockey as a whole.
Tkachuk was the first American born player to lead the league in goals with 52 during the 1996-1997 season and still holds the Phoenix Coyotes records for career penalty minutes (1,508) and game-winning goals goals (40).
Tkachuk talked about his time in Phoenix with NHL.com correspondent Jerry Brown saying, "We played to packed houses a lot of the time, and those who say hockey doesn't work in Phoenix should go back and look at where it was at that time. The thing that makes me most happy is seeing the Arizona kids who picked up the game watching the Coyotes now grown up and getting drafted by the NHL or earning Division I scholarships. I'm proud of the impact we had on those kids."
The Coyotes will be back on the ice Monday to face their Pacific Division foe, the Los Angeles Kings. The games can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and the puck drops at 8 p.m. Arizona time.