By Dave Vest
The Coyotes matched the intensity of a team playing for its postseason life on Wednesday night, but they couldn’t match that team’s goal total and lost, 2-1, to the Calgary Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped all but one of Phoenix’s 30 shots to lead Calgary to a much-needed victory. Unlike the Coyotes, the Flames have not secured a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they moved closer to doing so by winning their third consecutive home game. Calgary is in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, two points behind eighth-place Colorado.
After a scoreless first period, the Flames took a 1-0 lead when Ian White wristed a shot from the left circle and it ricocheted off the right skate of teammate Rene Bourque and past Coyotes backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
at 14:23 of the second period while Phoenix defenseman Mathieu Schneider sat in the penalty box for holding.
The Flames (39-29-9) later took a 2-0 lead when Ales Kotalik snapped a shot by LaBarbera at 3:46 of the third period.
The Coyotes (47-25-6), who missed a chance to gain ground on Western Conference/Pacific Division leading San Jose, which lost to Dallas, pulled to within 2-1 with 6:52 left in the game when Lee Stempniak
shoveled a pass from Wojtek Wolski
past Kiprusoff from the top of the crease.
Phoenix, which dictated play for much of the first and third periods, had several good chances to tie the score after pulling LaBarbera for an extra attacker with 1:35 left, but Kiprusoff made several clutch saves to secure the victory.
"I thought our guys pushed hard tonight but we couldn't get the one we needed to tie it up," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "You knew that (the Flames) were going to play a very hard and determined game. We had some opportunities that just didn't go for us tonight."
LaBarbera stopped 29 of 31 shots.
With the loss, Phoenix dropped to 1-3-1 in its past five games - not exactly the results Tippett is looking for as the team tries to fine tune its game for the postseason. On the plus side, the Coyotes will play just one game in the next six days.
"We need some practice time because we haven't had much practice time in the past month with our hectic (game) schedule," Tippett said.
• Lee Stempniak
’s goal was his 13th in 14 games since joining the Coyotes via a trade with Toronto on March 3. He has 27 goals this season, which matches a career-high he set in 2006-07 while playing for St. Louis.
• Per usual, the Coyotes played six games in western Canada this season, with two games each in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Phoenix won just one of those six games.
• The Coyotes played four games against Calgary this season. All four were decided by one goal. Each team won both of its home games.
• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek did not play. Head Coach Dave Tippett said it was because Michalek has some bumps and bruises. Tippett said he expects Michalek to play in Phoenix’s next game – on Saturday vs. Edmonton.
• Defenseman Mathieu Schneider returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a lower-body injury. He played 18:34 and notched one assist.
• Jim Vandermeer returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past four games and played forward on the fourth line with Daniel Winnik and Lauri Korpikoski
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
, Robert Lang, Zbynek Michalek, Petteri Nokelainen and Viktor Tikhonov
. Calgary scratched Curtis Glencross, Christopher Higgins, Daymond Langkow, Brian McGrattan and Adam Pardy.