It was Arizona Coyotes' goalie Mike Smith's intention when he took the ice Saturday night at Gila River Arena to start out the new season making a statement that he is back playing to the level expected.
On this long six-game road trip, Smith will more than likely be relieved by Louis Domingue when they play back-to-back games Wednesday against the Montreal Canadians, and Thursday against the New York Islanders.
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Too many players, not enough spots
It was also announced that Dylan Strome will get to make his debut against the Ottawa Senators, while Christian Dvorak takes a seat. It appears these two talented centers are going to be doing shuttle work in and out of the lineup until Head Coach/V.P. of Hockey Operations Dave Tippett decides which direction to go with them.
His limited roster space could create an issue with that. Perhaps a trade will be in the works soon since Kevin Connauton has been activated for this game. That caused Zbynek Michalek to be sent down to Tucson of the AHL.
Then, Michael Stone may be activated perhaps on this road trip causing an even more severe logjam on the blueline.
Tuesday night's game went like this
The starting lineup for the Arizona Coyotes:
Max Domi-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Tobias Rieder-Dylan Strome-Anthony Duclair
Jordan Martinook-Brad Richardson-Shane Doan
Lawson Crouse-Laurent Dauphin-Ryan White
Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Connor Murphy
Alex Goligoski-Luke Schenn
Kevin Connauton-Jamie McBain
First period facts
The Coyotes came out strong again to begin the game, and actually scored the first goal of the game at 12:18 when Tobias Rieder scored off a rebound shot taken by Strome in the high slot. The goal was monumental in that it was Strome's first NHL point with his parents in the crowd to witness it.
The Coyotes fortunes didn't last long as the Ottawa Senators began to clump goals together in a short lapse of time. Bobby Ryan tied the game at 13:41, on a power play goal assisted by Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson. The Senators waited just 1:19 to score their second goal, unassisted by Tom Pyatt.
The period ended with Ottawa leading 2-1. Arizona outshot the Senators 16-13.
Second period action
The only goal in the second period was scored by Zack Smith at 13:04 and it was a shorthanded goal. This was a bad trait of last season's Coyotes' team when they gave up 14 short handed goals. Ottawa was now ahead 3-1 after two periods of play.
Third period scoring frenzy
The Coyotes had a 5-on-3 power play carried over from the previous period, and their go-to guy Oliver Ekman-Larsson came through once again with a blast from his favorite left side. Shane Doan assisted, along with Alex Goligoski.
But, once more the Senators bunched goals together, breaking the Coyotes' backs. Chris Kelly and Mark Stone (Coyotes' Michael Stone's brother) played tag team to score :41 seconds apart. This brought the advantage to Ottawa by a 5-2 margin.
Jordan Martinook scored at 10:04 giving the Yotes some hope for coming back. Ottawa was not hearing it. At 18:13 Kyle Turris scored to give the Senators their three-goal lead back. Part of this downfall was due to Mike Smith getting injured at 12:42 of the final stanza. He twisted his body like a pretzel in an effort to keep the puck out of his net. Jamie McBain fell on Smith, which may have injured his leg.
Louis Domingue replaced Smith but gave up two goals on the first three shots he faced. Martinook who earned the third star of the game award was not done yet. He scored at 18:43 assisted by Connor Murphy and Brad Richardson. With Domingue pulled, Erik Karlsson scored into an empty net to end the nightmarish game for the visiting Coyotes.
To rub salt into the wound, the Arizona hockey club allowed 42 shots on goal, and that is never a good thing.
They will try to regroup to get ready for the next game in Montreal on Thursday. If Smith is sidelined, Domingue will get the start, and a backup goalie from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners will need to catch a flight to Montreal.