It took a team from Long Island to deliver the appropriate moniker for the Coyotes’ haunted new house.
Following Friday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders, Glendale Arena has become hockey’s version of the Amityville Horror.
Phoenix is now 2-7-2-2 in its new digs and 0-6-1-1 in its last eight games overall. As a result, the playoffs are more lip service than possibility.
"It’s amazing how when momentum gets away from you it’s so hard to get back," said goalie Brian Boucher, who ought to know after allowing a pair of uncharacteristically soft goals just one month removed from his recordsetting shutout streak.
"Everything we do now, it seems like everything goes wrong," he said.
Phoenix thought it had the monkey off its back with a strong first period that produced a 2-0 lead on goals by Jan Hrdina and Mike Sillinger.
But with a 5-on-3 power play and a golden opportunity to open a commanding lead, Hrdina was robbed at the corner of the net by Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, who dove back into position to snare a quick snap shot with his glove.
"That changes the whole complexion of the game around," Coyotes coach Bob Francis said.
So did former Coyote Cliff Ronning’s goal at the 4:56 of the second period.
"The first goal they scored you could just sense the tightness on the bench," said Francis, who admitted his team is pressing at home.
The Coyotes’ knuckles must have been white when Trent Hunter’s power play slapper from the high slot bounced off Boucher’s glove and into the net to tie the score at 12:04.
"It’s a save I need to make if we plan on winning games," said Boucher, who didn’t get much help from teammate Brad Ference, who screened him on New York’s third goal and turned the puck over on the the fourth — a Mariusz Czerkawski blast from the left wing that eluded a poorly positioned Boucher inside the far post.
"We’re putting guys in situations where they’re probably playing too many minutes, particularly on the blue line," said Francis, who has played with six defenseman far too long this season.
"We’re asking a lot of guys that still are in their development mode."
Phoenix is also asking more of its goal scorers than it is receiving. Besides the Hrdina chance, Ladislav Nagy had two great opportunities in the third period, but was stoned by DiPietro on both occasions.
Phoenix went 0-for-6 on the power play.
"If you could put your finger on it you’d change it," said captain Shane Doan, whose team dropped its fourth straight.
"It’s not one thing, it’s a group of things."
Friday’s win was New York’s first since the Coyotes moved to Phoenix (1-4-2) in 1996.
Coupled with Nashville’s win Phoenix is nine points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with red-hot Dallas in town tonight.
Stars at Coyotes When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Glendale Arena
TV: KASW (Ch. 61)
Radio: KDUS (1060 AM), KDKB (93.3
Records: Phoenix 18-20-14-3, Dallas
Line: Stars even to 1 /2
Series history: Phoenix has a 41-53-13 record in the all-time series. Phoenix is 2-2-1 against Dallas this season.
Scouting report: Coyotes — With the playoffs quickly fading from view, this as close to a must-win as it gets in for Phoenix. Dallas is already 11 points ahead of Phoenix and steaming away like much of the Western Conference playoff field. Jean-Marc Pelletier could make his first start in net since being recalled from Springfield.
Stars — What a difference a month makes. Since playing the first three months of the season in a funk Dallas is unbeaten (6-0-2) in its last eight games and has gone from a seller to a buyer as the trade deadline approaches. Goalie Marty Turco has returned to last season’s form as Dallas sets its sights on the Pacific Division title.