Had the Phoenix Coyotes come back and won on Sunday night, it would have been one of their more impressive victories of the season. But after their 4-3 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, it just stings that much more.
Phoenix went down early, watching Chicago score the first two goals of the game, both courtesy of captain Jonathan Toews. First, Toews scored on a bouncer that trickled past Ilya Bryzgalov. On Chicago's first power play of the game, Toews redirected a Brent Seabrook shot past Bryz, and Chicago held the 2-0 lead after one.
That two-goal deficit stayed that way for much of the first half of the game. Adrian Aucoin narrowed it to 2-1, but Marian Hossa added a power play goal of his own to put the Blackhawks back up by two, 3-1.
The Coyotes would grab the momentum in the second half of that second period, which would last for much of the remainder of Sunday's tilt.
After the Coyotes' power play did so much to let them down, Chicago's nearly did the same, with the Coyotes netting a pair of goals on the man advantage. Keith Yandle ripped one past Blackhawk netminder Corey Crawford, before Martin Hanzal put a rebound past Crawford in front of a Chicago net.
Despite the fact that the Coyotes would see plenty of chances, they were unable to convert. They had brief flurries on Crawford towards the end, but Chicago's defensive breakouts kept them in check for much of regulation.
After the two squads went to a shootout back on Feb. 12, it seemed they were destined to repeat it on Sunday. The teams combined for just five shots in the extra frame, with Bryan Bickell's shot off the pipe being the only one that came close to ending it.
In the shootout, it would be Toews coming back to haunt the Coyotes, once again. His simple shot on Bryzgalov's right would prove to be the only goal in the shootout, with Crawford saving all three Coyote shots.
With the loss, the Coyotes have lost three in a row after winning eight, with this one being the first regulation loss of the trio. With their next two against division rivals, and all of their remaining 18 games against the Western Conference, every game becomes crucial for Phoenix down the stretch, despite being in fourth in the standings after this loss.