The Carolina Hurricanes don’t have a team captain this year, but the Arizona Coyotes do, and he was the difference Friday.
Shane Doan, who has worn the “C” for the Coyotes for 13 seasons, was the one who led the way. By game’s end, the 40-year-old forward had a goal and two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Canes at PNC Arena.
Remember when the Canes were rolling up home-ice wins? Those, too, have stopped, in their red uniforms or the “lucky” black sweaters, as they now have lost to the Colorado Avalanche and Coyotes — two of the NHL’s worst teams — in the past six home games.
Then again, the Canes are not a team to be feared by many, either. Now 25-26-10 overall, they are winless in their last four games and 1-6-3 in their past 10, struggling to score goals and find ways to win regardless of which goalie Canes coach Bill Peters decides to use.
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Cam Ward was the guy in net Friday and the veteran had some sparkling stops, sprawling and stacking the pads to rob Radim Vrbata in the third. The first two Coyotes goals – by Christian Dvorak and Alex Goligoski – came on good shots off the rush for a 2-0 lead, and Doan set up Jordan Martinook for an easy shot from the slot in the third after forcing a Canes turnover. Doan added a late empty-netter to seal the win.
“We got a little lackadaisical at the end, and it cost us the game,” Canes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said.
Lee Stempniak scored late in the first period and Jordan Staal early in the second for the Canes to force a 2-2 tie. But that’s all Louis Domingue, the Coyotes’ backup goalie, allowed in making 32 stops.
“It was kind of an ugly, mucky win,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett said, summing things up well.
Had the Canes been sharper offensively early, it might have been a different game. Elias Lindholm missed an open net and Phil Di Giuseppe and Stempniak both had shots go off the metal – near-misses but misses all the same.
“We chased the game,” Peters said. “We never scored early on some good chances, and we never led.”
After Martinook gave the Coyotes a 3-2 lead at 9:02 of the third, the Canes went on a power play about a minute later after Doan tripped Stempniak. But Arizona killed off the penalty, and the Canes couldn’t make a late push after forward Jeff Skinner was called for interference with 2:37 remaining in regulation.
Skinner returned to the lineup after missing the past two games, being evaluated in Raleigh for an injury, but had a quiet game.
The Coyotes (23-34-7) played Thursday, losing 6-3 to the Buffalo Sabres, who broke the game open late in the third. But the Coyotes got over that frustration as Doan, the longest-tenured captain in the NHL, had the three-point game.
Peters didn’t think the Canes were physical or heavy enough, although he did praise Di Giuseppe’s six hits. The forecheck wasn’t very effective while some D-zone mistakes were costly, and none bigger than a Ryan Murphy pass to Klas Dahbeck behind the Canes net that Doan forced into the decisive turnover.
The Canes will get another chance against the Coyotes – soon. The two play again Sunday in Arizona, which adds up to a lot of air miles.
“We need more intensity, more speed and need to bury our chances,” Staal said. “We need to get around the net, get some greasy goals, get in the goalie’s eyes, all the dirty stuff that we kind of gotten away from. Go hard to the net and create havoc around there.”
Peters made some hard, critical comments about goalie Eddie Lack on Friday morning. Peters didn’t back off after the game, saying, “That’s just being honest.”