Arizona Coyotes fall short in defeat to Montréal Canadiens 
Two defensive mistakes were capital for the Coyotes (Photo:

In a long awaited start for Calvin Pickard, he was unable to prevent his team from the loss in Montreal

After wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, the resilient Arizona Coyotes arrived in Montreal to play for a complete sweep in their Eastern Canada road trip.

To face the pride of the province of Québec, the Montréal Canadiens, the team had to endure a two-hour bus trip from Ottawa after their airplane had problems in Canada's capital. Despite the lack of rest the team missed captain Oliver-Ekman-Larsson with a lower-body injury.

It was also the first return of Alex Galchenyuk to the Bell Center against his former team. Apart from getting a warm welcome from the fans, his older teammates made it difficult for the Coyotes as Jonathan Drouin opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period.

The second period was even more entertaining

Rick Tocchet got his team going and kept pressuring famous goalie Carey Price. The Coyotes would eventually tie the game on a tic-tac-toe power play goal set up by Clayton Keller and Nick Cousins, and once again rookie Conor Garland was in the right place at the right time to score a nice goal.

Mike Reilly scored the go-ahead goal that would give the game's final numbers after a nice slap shot from the slot with no chance from Calvin Pickard. This was his first start after being recalled from the Tucson Roadrunners.

There was hope after Galchenyuk scored what had looked like the tying goal but it turned out to be overturned. Montreal head coach Claude Julien challenged the play for offside and after a video review, it was clear Alex Goligoski let the puck come out of the zone.

A goal that would have added a lot of fire on a cold evening in Montreal.

"I was proud of our team, we emptied the tank," head coach Rick Tocchet said of the Coyotes, who were playing a game for the third time in four nights. "We had a lot of adversity the last couple of days… It was a hard-fought game."

"To have that goal called back is tough," Garland said. "We fought hard on that power play there. I think we used all two minutes of it to get that one, so to have it taken back stinks."

"It was so nice to be back competing and it was a great environment to do it in," said Pickard, whom the Coyotes claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Nov. 29. "And credit to our guys; they made it easy on me and it's too bad we couldn't get out of here with some points. But to get back out there on the ice and battle with these guys, you know, it's nice to be back."

Despite Clayton Keller who has been selected to the All-Star-Game next weekend in San Jose the rest of the team can enjoy a well-deserved break to recharge their batteries for a very important stretch of the season.

While the teams wait to evaluate how serious the injury of Oliver Ekman-Larsson is, good news could be the slow return of players like Brad Richardson, Michael Grabner, Christian Dvorak, and even Jason Demers late in the season.

The next game is only 13 days away at the San Jose Sharks on February 2nd. It will be another vital game for the playoff aspirations of a team who just doesn't give up.

After last night's loss do you think the Arizona Coyotes are still in contention for a playoff spot? Leave your opinion in the comment in the section below!