NEW YORK - The Coyotes fired 36 shots on goal Monday night against the Rangers inside Madison Square Garden, but goalie Henrik Lundqvist was in a zone, and New York won 4-1.
It was another frustrating defeat for Phoenix, which is winless in its past six games.
“I don’t know what to say right now other than I know my team is working hard and (if) you keep working hard like that, good things are going to happen, eventually,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said.
Forward Enver Lisin scored Phoenix’s goal before the game was five minutes old. Center Olli Jokinen set up the tally with a perfect pass to Lisin from the right side on a two-on-one rush. Lisin, alone in front, slid the puck between Lundqvist’s legs.
The Coyotes had many decent scoring chances after that but couldn’t get another puck past Lundqvist, who upped his record to 13-5-2.
“I thought we played hard,” Coyotes rookie forward Kevin Porter said. “We’ve just got to bury our chances. They gave us a lot of chances and we just didn’t capitalize. Their goalie played well and we knew he was going to.”
Coyotes forward Peter Mueller, who has five goals but none in the past seven games, twice fired a shot off a post. He led Phoenix with six shots on goal.
With defenseman Derek Morris out of the lineup again because of injury, Gretzky gave the “A” normally on Morris’ sweater to Mueller for the first time in his career.
“We need Peter to be Peter for us to have a chance to win,” Gretzky said. “I thought … maybe the “A” would fire him up a little bit and I think it did. I thought he played better tonight than he’s played, but we still need him to go to another level. I just think he’s too good of a hockey player to have the number of goals he’s got right now. He can do better than that.”
Four different players scored for the Rangers, who earned their Eastern Conference-best 10th home victory.
I don’t know what to say right now other than I know my team is working hard and (if) you keep working hard like that, good things are going to happen, eventually.- Wayne Gretzky
Rangers center Blair Betts tied the score at 1 when he took a pass from Nikolai Zherdev while slicing thorugh the middle of the Phoenix zone and made a nice move to push puck the around Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 13:33 of the first period.
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead 75 seconds into the second period when Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski inadvertently tapped a loose puck into the Phoenix goal. Center Brandon Dubinsky, the last Rangers player to touch the puck, was credited with the goal.
New York defenseman Dan Girardi made the score 3-1 at 7:37 of the third period when he fired a power-play shot from the point through traffic and past Bryzgalov.
After the game, Coyotes captain Shane Doan was asked what the Coyotes can do to emerge from their current funk.
“We’ve got to keep going,” Doan said. “I mean, that’s our job. Our job is to find a way to win and unfortunately we’re going to have to do something special. Someone is going to have to have a big game and someone is going to have to do something, whether it’s our goaltending or whether it’s one of our guys on the blue line or up front, someone has to do something. We’ve got to find a way to win a game and kind of get this thing going back in the right direction.”
Coyotes forward Kevin Porter skates past New York Rangers forward Scott Gomez Monday at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
• Jovanovski blocked five shots, including one off his upper body in the game’s final moments that forced him to leave the ice and not return. He was not seriosuly injured on the play.
• Rangers center Scott Gomez returned to action after a five-game absence due to a leg injury. Gomez scored an empty-net goal with 27.9 seconds left.
• Zherdev had three assists for the Rangers.
• Dubinsky had a Gordie Howe hat trick. Coyotes sparkplug Daniel Carcillo dropped the gloves with Dubinsky 2:58 into the first period. Both players traded jabs with Carcillo landing the heavier punches.
• The referees called only three minor penalties in the game. Two were called on Phoenix and one was called on New York.
• Morris, Brian McGrattan and Garth Murray were the scratches for the Coyotes. Nigel Dawes, Patrick Rissmiller and Petr Prucha were scratches for New York.
1 - 0 PHX
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYR
3 - 1 NYR
4 - 1 NYR