By Dave Vest NEW YORK – The Coyotes began a three-game road trip with a lackluster 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
Phoenix (6-4-0) fell behind 4-0 before the game reached its midpoint and its attempt for a memorable comeback victory fizzled after the Coyotes sliced the deficit in half late in the second period.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has been extremely reliable in net so far this season, had a bad game. He stopped only seven of the 11 shots he faced before being pulled by Head Coach Dave Tippett after Marian Gaborik scored a power-play goal at 7:46 of the second period.
Gaborik notched two power-play goals in the game, in which he suffered a late injury. Vinny Prospal chipped in a goal and two assists for the Rangers (8-3-1), who snapped a three-game losing skid.
“Our margin for error is very slim, and we need solid goaltending every night and we need solid effort from the whole group,” Tippett said. ”It’s easy to say you had intensity after you’re down 4-0, but where is the intensity before that? It’s frustrating because we’re looking for better results.”
New York took a 1-0 lead at 2:31 of the first period when Artem Anisimov took a pass down low from Brian Boyle, whirled and swept the puck into the Phoenix net. Bryzgalov was in good position, but the puck deflected off one of Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek’s skates and slipped past him.
Gaborik gave New York a 2-0 lead when he notched his first goal at 13:09 of the first period. Brandon Dubinsky fed the puck to Gaborik from the right corner as the latter cruised alone down the slot.
Trailing 4-0, the Coyotes scored twice within a four-minute span in the second period to make the sellout crowd just a bit uneasy. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski tallied from the right circle at 15:47, and Vernon Fiddler beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist from the mid-slot at 19:19.
Former Coyotes forward Enver Lisin ended any hopes of a Phoenix comeback when he scored his third goal of the season with a blast from the left circle during the middle of the third period.
Down 4-2, the Coyotes had a golden chance to get back in the game after New York’s Dan Girardi was called for holding the stick six seconds into the third period. Phoenix, however, did not score on the power play before it expired.
• Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett inserted backup Jason LaBarbera, a former Rangers goalie, into the game after New York took its 4-0 lead. “We were looking for some saves, but we were also looking to change momentum a little bit. That’s what we tried to do.” LaBarbera, who hadn’t played since Oct. 8, gave the Coyotes a chance by stopping 12 of 13 shots.
• Vernon Fiddler, who has led the Coyotes’ improved performance in the faceoff circles this season, scored his first goal since signing with the Coyotes in the off-season. It was Phoenix's first shorthanded goal of the season.
• Neither Petr Prucha nor Lauri Korpikoski stood out in their first games at Madison Square Garden since being traded from the Rangers to the Coyotes in separate deals last season and in the off-season, respectively. Prucha played 13:09 and was minus-1. Korpikoski played 9:19 and was minus-2.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette and Sean Sullivan. New York scratched Aaron Voros.
• Dozens of police cars swarmed around Madison Square Garden about 30 minutes before the game started as the Philadelphia Phillies made their way through adjoining Penn Station after taking a train to New York for the start of the World Series on Wednesday.
"Our power play really let us down. They get two (goals) on their power play and we didn’t get any on ours. That’s was the difference in the game."
"You can’t give a team like that a big lead like that and expect to come back and win the game."
"We know how to win. We put together a nice stretch there in the beginning of the year. We know what we need to do."