MONTREAL – Playing their third road game in four nights, the Coyotes couldn’t keep up with one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference in a loud, hostile environment Saturday night, and lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Alex Tanguay scored two goals and Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists to lead Montreal (4-0-1).
"We lost to a very good hockey club," Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said, "one of the best teams in hockey. We move forward now."
On the plus side for Phoenix, captain Shane Doan scored his team-high fourth goal midway through the third period to spoil the shutout bid of Montreal goalie Carey Price, who just happens to be Doan’s second cousin. Price finished with 28 stops, including a dazzling kick save against Doan from point blank in the first period.
“He stoned me on that first one,” Doan said. “We needed that one a lot more, and he comes up with a big save when they needed it. If I score there it’s 1-1 and a different game, but he made a big save early.”
Coyotes rookie Mikkel Boedker also had a solid scoring chance in the first period when he lured Price out of position, but his shot from a tough angle to Price’s right missed the net.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves in his fifth consecutive start.
Montreal scored twice in the first period and twice in the second period to build a 4-0 lead.
The game morphed from a showcase of speed into a display of muscle in the second period after Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer crushed Montreal‘s Andrei Kostitsyn into the boards. Kostitsyn’s helmet hit the glass and he lay motionless on the ice for several moments, but he eventually left the ice and did not return.
Fans inside the Bell Centre booed replays of the hit, but no penalty was called.
"I don’t think I came up high on him or anything," Sauer said.
Multiple altercations ensued, including a fight between Sauer and Montreal’s Tom Kostopoulos. Former Coyotes enforcer Georges Laraque fought current Coyotes enforcer Todd Fedoruk near the end of the second period.
"Sauer is one of the cleaner players in the game and doesn’t go looking for trouble," Gretzky said. "He finished his body check and they responded as a team. …That’s something we've seen in the game for a lot of years and something we're going to see for a lot more years. I thought both teams responded the way they had to."
After starting the season 2-0-0, the Coyotes have lost three games in a row – all on the road.
“We we need to go back home," Gretzky said immediately after Saturday’s game. "We had four games on the road. Listen, would we like to be 3-2 and .500 on this trip? Absolutely. We’re not, but you learn from it. And as I said to the players after Sunday’s win in Anaheim, you don’t get too high when you win and don’t get too low when you lose."
The Coyotes next play Thursday against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Jobing.com Arena. It is the first game of a four-game homestand.
1 - 0 MTL
2 - 0 MTL
3 - 0 MTL
4 - 0 MTL
4 - 1 MTL
Interference - Goalkeeper