By Dave Vest
The Coyotes spent too much time killing penalties on Saturday night at the Verizon Center and failed to score on their five power plays. That, in a nutshell, is why they lost, 4-2, to the high-powered Washington Capitals.
“We ended up having to work too hard because we took too many penalties,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “When you give the top power play in the league that many power plays it wears down a lot of people. It wears down your defense. We had some people out there that competed very hard… It comes down to discipline and not putting a high-skilled team on the power play.”
Phoenix (29-18-5) was called for eight penalties, and the Capitals scored two goals in 11:30 of power-play time.
Alexander Semin had a goal and three primary assists for Washington (33-12-6), which has won six games in a row.
Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski
matched his season total by scoring two goals. His backhanded goal from the low slot at 13:29 of the first period tied the score 1-1.
The score remained knotted until Washington’s Eric Fehr beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
with a shot from a tough angle at 13:22 of the second period. Fehr set up the goal by retrieving a blocked pass he was trying to make and wristing the puck past Bryzgalov.
Trailing 3-1, Korpikoski pulled Phoenix to within a goal at 7:24 of the third period when he banged a rebound past Capitals backup goalie Michal Neuwirth. Later in the period, Korpikoski raced the puck up the right side and skated the puck around Alexander Ovechkin in the Washington zone. Neuwirth blocked his shot to preserve the lead and deny Korpikoski his first career hat trick.
The Coyotes were awarded a power play with 2:48 to play after Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was called for cross-checking. Phoenix had several good scoring chances from in close but Neuwirth denied them each time, even after Bryzgalov was pulled for an extra attacker.
Ovechkin chipped in an empty-net goal with 5.3 seconds to play.
Neuwirth, playing in his 17th NHL game, made 28 saves.
“I thought he played really good,” Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought he was a little nervous at the beginning of the game. He really smothered pucks in the third period and allowed our centermen to win a lot of face-offs so we could get line changes and we weren’t caught out there too long. That was a real big factor.”
Bryzgalov made 30 saves in his first appearance against the Capitals.
• Saturday's game was the first for defenseman Sami Lepisto
against the Washington Capitals, the team that traded him to Phoenix on June 27, 2009 for a fifth-round choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Lepisto played 23 shifts and blocked three shots. The Capitals selected Lepisto with the 66th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played 14 games for Washington over two seasons.
• Forward Lauri Korpikoski
scored two goals in one game for the second time this season. He accomplished the same feat vs. Dallas on Nov. 27.
• In a game in which it desperately needed puck possession, the Coyotes won only 41 of 100 face-offs.
• The Coyotes had three shots on goal during their five power plays, but had six short-handed shots during Washington's power plays.
• Phoenix plays 11 more games before the NHL suspends its schedule for the Winter Olympics. Seven of those games will be played on the road.
• The Coyotes are 6-6-1 vs. teams from the Eastern Conference, and 0-2-0 vs. teams from the Southeast Division (Tampa Bay and Washington).
• The Coyotes scratched Anders Eriksson and Daniel Winnik, who suffered an upper-body injury when he was checked against the boards by Buffalo's Clarke MacArthur with 41 seconds left in the second period on Monday. Winnik is listed as day-to-day. Washington scratched Quintin Lang and Tyler Sloan.