Quality prevailed over quantity Tuesday night at Glendale Arena. The Coyotes outshot the Blues by more than a 2 1 /2-to-1 ratio, but St. Louis made the most of its opportunities in a 5-4 come-from-behind victory which sent Phoenix to its season-high fourth straight loss.
The Coyotes had 37 shots on goal to the Blues’ 14 but couldn’t get the puck past rookie goaltender Jason Bacashihua when it mattered most as their own comeback attempt came up short.
"That’s a tough one when you outshot a team by that much and lose," said associate coach Rick Tocchet, who is acting as head coach while Wayne Gretzky is on an indefinite leave of absence. Gretzky’s mother, Phyllis, died Monday night.
Phoenix (16-16-2) three times had a one-goal advantage but could never put away St. Louis, which came into the game with an NHL-worst 16 points.
"I think we didn’t have the killer instinct tonight," said Mike Comrie, who had two goals.
The Coyotes, who hadn’t scored in the first period in its past five games, led 2-1 after the first 20 minutes on goals by Geoff Sanderson and Comrie. After ex-Coyote Mike Sillinger tied the game at 2-2 with his second goal 4:39 into the second period, the Coyotes again took the lead, this time on a rebound goal by Jamie Lundmark at the 11:48 mark of the period.
From there, though, the Blues took over, scoring three unanswered goals by Scott Young, Aaron Downey and Jamal Mayers. St. Louis scored its third goal on its seventh shot, its fourth on its ninth and its fifth on its 13th.
After that Phoenix goalie Curtis Joseph was replaced by Brian Boucher for the final 9:32.
"Curtis has been great all year for us. Let’s face it. I think he had an off-night tonight," Tocchet said. "He’d be the first one to tell you. Sometimes you just need to try to shake up something."
Phoenix generated several good scoring opportunities down the stretch, but only scored when Boucher was pulled to give the Coyotes a 6-on-3 advantage. Comrie netted the goal to pull Phoenix within one with 3:58 remaining.
Bacashihua, who was playing in only his third NHL game, then held the Coyotes off to preserve the win for St. Louis.
"The goaltender played pretty good for them," said Ladislav Nagy who had the puck poked away by Bacashihua on a breakaway late and also hit the crossbar with an earlier shot. "He was a little bit lucky tonight, but what can I say."
The game was delayed for about 10 minutes in the opening period due to smoke in one of the kitchens which set off an alarm in the arena. The cause of the smoke was not immediately known, but a Coyotes spokesman said it was not from a fire.
An announcement on the PA system instructed everyone to leave the building and all the scoreboards went dead. Fans began to exit and the Blues made their way toward their locker room before the Glendale Fire Department gave the OK to return. The officials and most of the Coyotes, meanwhile, stayed on the ice or on the bench.
The funeral for Gretzky’s mother will take place Thursday in Brantford, Ontario. In lieu of flowers, the Gretzky family is encouraging donations to the Brantford General Hospital Foundation "Sam Rizzo MRI Fund" and the Juravinski Cancer Centre Foundation in Hamilton, Ontario. For more information, visit the Coyotes’ Web site, www.phoenixcoyotes.com. . . . In honor of Phyllis Gretzky, Phoenix players wore decals with her initials on their helmets. . . .
Defenseman Logan Stephenson, a Coyotes second-round draft pick in 2004, has been added to Canada’s National Junior Team for the pre-competition portion of the World Junior Championship, which starts Monday.