An impressive and extraordinary start for the Coyotes morphed into a head-scratching and disturbing finish Friday night as the Anaheim Ducks rallied for a 4-3 overtime preseason victory at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes outshot Anaheim 38-6 and led 3-0 after two periods thanks to relentless team forechecking and goals by Peter Mueller, Jeff Hoggan and Jim Vandermeer.
A five-minute major penalty called on Coyotes forward Francis Lessard for boarding Anaheim's Ryan Donally early in the third period shifted the momentum to the Ducks. Lessard also was assessed a game misconduct for his hit.
The Ducks cashed in the lengthy power play when Joffrey Lupul knocked the puck past Coyotes goalie Josh Tordjman 10:08 into the period. Tordjman had entered the game at the start of the third period after watching Al Montoya stop the six shots he faced in the first two periods.
Anaheim narrowed the deficit to 3-2 when Dan Sexton got behind Coyotes defenders Kurt Sauer and Nick Ross and backhanded the puck past Tordjman at 13:00.
Lupul delivered the tying goal with 1:10 left in the third period, and Luca Sbisa beat Tordjman during a 5-on-3 Ducks advantage 83 seconds into the extra period to end the game.
“We were playing well and then Lessard takes a dumb penalty and it put us down for five minutes,” Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson said. “Then they sort of got a little life in them and our defense was a little sloppy and got beat on a couple of rushes … and that got them back in the game.”
He added, “We’re not going to overreact, but you certainly want to win games when you’re up 3-0 going into the third period. You can look at a number of excuses like a new goalie in there, but we were just undisciplined and our slow feet beat us.”
Vandermeer said the Coyotes need to remember how this third-period collapse happened to prevent it from happening again when the games count.
“I think it’s a learning experience,” Vandermeer said. “That game should have been over. We should have locked down and played real stingy defense until the end of the game… Any time you give any team in this league chances like we gave them (in the third period) they’re going to bury them.”
It was a cruel finish to a game the Coyotes dominated for two periods, especially the first 20 minutes during which Phoenix fired 30 shots at Ducks goalie Timo Pielmeier.
Center Peter Mueller gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead when he launched a shot from beyond the top of the slot past Pielmeier at 10:57 of the first period, halfway through a power play. Forward Lauri Korpikoski set up the man adavantage by drawing a tripping penalty on Sbisa.
Forward Jeff Hoggan upped Phoenix's lead to 2-0 less than a minute after Mueller's goal. Hoggan drove to the net up the right side and slid the puck between Pielmeier's legs at 11:50.
Lessard and Donally dropped the gloves at 2:54 of the first period. It was Lessard's third fight in his first four preseason periods.
Vandermeer gave Phoenix a 3-0 lead with 18 seconds left in the second period with a wrist shot through traffic from just inside the blue line. Coyotes forward Brett MacLean screened Ducks goalie Jean-Philippe Levasseur nicely on the play.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Coyotes will play their fifth preseason game Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.