EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Phoenix Coyotes
felt they played better in Game 3 of this Western Conference Final series. They also came up short again, and now are one loss from elimination.
There is an extra off day in the schedule between Games 3 and 4 because of the congestion at Staples Center with the Los Angeles Kings
, Clippers and Lakers still participating in the postseason. Most of the Coyotes that played Thursday night took Friday off, as coach Dave Tippett
tried to give them a break from the day-to-day grind of the playoffs.
"I think it can be really important," Adrian Aucoin
said of the extra day off. "I'm always the kind of guy that likes to keep playing, keep it rolling. Seeing how we haven't gotten the results, it's nice to take a day, refresh the mind, come back and go for a win on Sunday."
Added Kyle Chipchura
: "It is always nice to get in that flow of every second [day]. You kind of get used to that. I think we can use today as kind of a day to regroup and tomorrow get back at it and refocused. I think you just have to adjust to the schedule with no preference.
The Coyotes were clearly frustrated Thursday night after a 2-1 loss. Phoenix players felt they had played their best game of the series and that still wasn't enough.
Now they face a daunting task of trying to erase a 3-0 series deficit.
"All season long every time we've put ourselves in a hole or behind the eight-ball, we've done a good job of recovering and getting back at it," Chipchura said. "I know this is totally different, that this is something that is a lot harder. We're not going to roll over and die. We're going to go out there and fight to the last buzzer, until it's over. The old saying is ‘it's not over till it's over.' We're going to give our all."
Aucoin could return from injury to help the Coyotes' defense corps. Phoenix will definitely get center Martin Hanzal
back after a one-game suspension.
Both of those guys skated Thursday, and Hanzal seemed eager to return, to say the least.
"I already had couple days off. I'm fresh, ready to go," Hanzal said of the extra day off. "If I speak for my teammates, they're probably happy to take the day off today, practice tomorrow, be ready on Sunday."
Added Tippett: "I don't think you look at it one way or another. We'll take a rest day today. We got some players that didn't play last night and a few extra skating today. We'll take the day to evaluate the game last night, have a good practice tomorrow and that will be our prep for Sunday. You know, you manage your schedule accordingly. I don't think it's one way or another. Good or bad, you know what it is and you plan accordingly."