Friday may be remembered as a night of missed opportunities for two playoff contenders, at least if things don’t go their way.
Earlier on, the Chicago Blackhawks scored a game-winner with about four seconds left in regulation to leave the Columbus Blue Jackets empty-handed on the evening. The Phoenix Coyotes saw a potential two-point gain against the Edmonton Oilers turn into a 3-2 shootout loss thanks in part to this mistake by Thomas Greiss:
The bad news for the Blue Jackets and Coyotes is that they saw greater gains slip through their fingers. The more optimistic side is that both remain seated in the final wild card spot in the East and West respectively.
The end of periods generally plagued Phoenix on Friday. Justin Schultz gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead with 45 seconds left in the first period, which Phoenix overcame with goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kyle Chipchura before Sam Gagner capitalized on Greiss’ error.
Even with that disappointing finish, the Coyotes did indeed move into eighth place in the West. They have a one-point standings lead over the Dallas Stars (who hold two games in hand and some tiebreaker advantages).
Here is a quick look at the Coyotes’ and Stars’ remaining schedules:
Phoenix: April 8 – at Columbus, April 10 – at Nashville, April 12 – vs. San Jose and April 13 – that big game against Dallas in Phoenix.
Dallas: Saturday – at Tampa Bay, Sunday – at Florida, April 8 – vs. Nashville, April 9 – vs. Columbus, April 11 – vs. St. Louis and April 13 – that big game against the Coyotes in Phoenix.
As you can see, there are still plenty of variables (the Stars facing two back-to-back sets and that whole season finale bit), so this is far from over. Still, that Gagner goal/Greiss gaffe may be something Coyotes fans remember wistfully if things don’t work out.