GLENDALE -- The Coyotes played with just five defensemen for all but 1:56 of Saturday's game vs. St. Louis at Gila River Arena. That's because rookie Anthony DeAngelo was ejected from the game for boarding St. Louis rookie Zach Sanford early in the first period.
Thanks to DeAngelo's hit, Arizona was put on the penalty kill for five minutes and nearly killed it. Alex Pietrangelo scored for St. Louis with just three seconds left on the lengthy power play.
The Coyotes never recovered and lost 3-0.
"Any time you lose a d-man early in a game like that ... I think it changes the whole complexion of a game," said goalie Mike Smith, who made 38 saves. "I didn't love the call but it is what it is. Our defense battled hard after that. It's always tough to lose a d-man early in the game against a hard team like that."
DeAngelo lost his stick and then checked Sanford from behind. Sanford crashed headfirst into the boards and immediately left the game. He returned in the second period and played 6:56 overall.
"I don't think there was any malicious intent to it, but when a player hits his head on the dasher board, and (he gets) a bad cut, that's pretty much the call you're going to see every time," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "It's unfortunate that it happened. I don't think Tony meant that to be that way, but that's probably the right call at the right time."
Video: Dave Tippett discusses Coyotes' 3-0 loss to Blues
Without DeAngelo, all five remaining defensemen were asked to pick up the slack. For example, Oliver Ekman-Larsson skated 30:21 and Alex Goligoski skated 27:09.
The NHL likely will review the play and could administer additional discipline to DeAngelo, who served a three-game suspension earlier this season for abuse of an official.
• Captain Shane Doan did not play because of a lower-body injury he suffered in Thursday's game vs. Detroit. He is considered day-to-day and will accompany the team when it departs on a five-game road trip on Sunday afternoon.
With Doan out of the lineup, the Coyotes named Goligoski a third alternate captain joining Ekman-Larsson and Radim Vrbata.
• Tippett said Smith was "spectacular" in net, especially in the first period when the Blues out-shot the Coyotes, 16-3.
"We were so poor in the first period," Tippett said. "It was maddening to say the least, especially when you play against a good team. They're a desperate team; they're playing hard tonight ... We had guys trying, but the ability to get in a battle, wanting to get into a battle and win the puck to allow you to play in the offensive zone or to clear your zone, there's just not enough guys that were engaged in that. When you don't do that, the whole game just is whizzing by you."
Defenseman Luke Schenn said the team's play in the first period set a poor tone for the game.
"(In) our building it's just unacceptable to have a period like that," Schenn said. "Obviously, you can use that as an excuse, as far as starting out five minutes on the (penalty) kill, but after that you have to rebound and generate a little bit more. We turned the puck over a little too much in the first period and we were kind of moving it east-west and back towards our own end instead of just going north."
Video: Luke Schenn discusses Coyotes' 3-0 loss to Blues
• Smith's shining moment came when he denied Vladimir Tarasenko's penalty shot at 19:14 of the second period.
"You get to this time of year and you think you will just have a little more urgency to do the right things out there and, unfortunately, we didn't tonight," Smith said.
Video: Mike Smith discusses Coyotes' 3-0 loss to Blues
• The Coyotes have lost to St. Louis nine games in a row, all in regulation. The last time they defeated the Blues occurred Nov. 12, 2013.
• Before the game, the Coyotes staged a ceremony to salute forward Vrbata for recently playing in his 1,000th NHL game.
Vrbata, standing at center ice with his wife Petra and their three sons, received gifts from the NHL and the team including a painting, a watch, a silver stick and tickets to this summer's Wimbledon final in London. Vrbata is a tennis fan.
During the game, a video featuring Doan and a few of Vrbata's former teammates - Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ron Francis and Joe Sakic - was played to help commemorate his feat.
Video: STL@ARI: Coyotes honor Vrbata on his 1,000th game