TORONTO—If head coach Mike Babcock could change one thing about his Toronto Maple Leafs last night, it would be their penalty kill.
Max Domi and Shane Doan scored first-period power-play goals as Toronto fell to the Arizona Coyotes 4-3.
Klahs Dahlbeck scored in the second period and Kyle Chipchura struck in the third for the Coyotes as the Leafs struggled to keep up with the visitors.
“Penalty kill wasn’t good enough, period,” stressed Babcock.
“If I look at the whole game, the part that I didn’t like, when things went bad on us, we didn’t respond,” he added.
James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly scored third-period goals to pull the Leafs to within one.
Shawn Matthias had Toronto’s other goal.
Mike Smith made 24 saves for the Coyotes (5-3-1), who now have won three-straight over the Leafs (1-5-2) dating back to last season.
Toronto entered last night’s contest with the 25th-ranked penalty kill in the NHL and surrendered two goals on four power plays to the Coyotes.
“We just didn’t start well, they get two power-play goals—the [penalty kill] has to be better,” agreed Rielly.
“We have to continue to work at that and improve on that,” he stressed.
“That might’ve been the difference in the game.”
Babcock particularly was frustrated at the Coyotes’ third goal.
Dahlbeck gave the Coyotes a 3-1 lead at 7:38 of the second by beating Leafs’ goalie James Reimer short side for his second of the season.
Reimer appeared to be partially-screened by Leo Komarov on the goal but accepted full blame post-game.
“That’s my fault, 100 percent,” said Reimer, who made 20 saves in his first regulation loss of the season.
“I just lost it,” he noted. “I just lost sight of it for a half-second and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net.
“It was one of those one-in-a-million, I think, where I just lost it for a half-second and it ended up going in,” Reimer added.
Domi’s fourth goal of the season at 6:31 of the first period gives the Coyotes’ forward 10 points, helping him leapfrog Edmonton’s Connor McDavid for the rookie scoring lead.
“This was a big game for everyone and we had some big goals from the whole lineup,” he noted.
“It was fun to see and definitely fun to be a part of and we’ll take the win, for sure.”
Leafs’ third-line centre Byron Froese played his way in to Babcock’s good books.
The 24-year-old, who was recalled last Friday, finished last night winning 11 of the 17 face-offs he took while playing 16 minutes and six seconds.
“The positive in tonight’s game for me is 56,” Babcock said of the Manitoba native.
“Real simple. Just face-offs alone and compete alone.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Chicago edged Anaheim 1-0 (OT) and the N.Y. Islanders blanked Calgary 4-0.