The week started out rough for the Arizona Coyotes, but they look to be heading in the right direction as they fight their way back into playoff contention. The team wrapped up their road trip with a game in Pittsburgh, and then came back home for two games against the Ducks and Panthers.
Facing the final game of their five game road trip, the Coyotes needed and wanted points. Heading into Monday’s game against the Penguins, Arizona had lost five straight and had yet to gain a point on the road trip.
The Coyotes just looked tired all night, with a lack of offensive zone time and the inability to capitalize on the power play, the Penguins got out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first. Patric Hornqvist (13,14) was the story of the night, scoring two of his three goals in the first.
Though the momentum started to swing in the Coyotes direction, a Chris Kunitz (12) goal put Arizona out of the game. The Coyotes were unable to stay out of the penalty box in the 2nd, and Hornqvist (15) completed the hat trick on the power play.
With the Coyotes coming off a beat down in Pittsburgh, Head Coach Dave Tippett elected to go with rookie Niklas Treutle on Thursday. That move did not turn out well for the team, as they were facing the hottest team in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks.
Jamie McGinn (16) opened the scoring early off a miss-play from Treutle, and less than a minute later Treutle had trouble tracking the puck resulting in Rickard Rakell’s 17th goal of the season on the power play. The rough first period was not over for the Coyotes goalie, as he tried to clear the zone but put the puck over the glass. Thankfully the Coyotes penalty kill was able to limit the scoring to only two after one period of play.
In the second the Ducks scored just under two minutes in, off a goal from Cam Fowler (4) on the power play. The Coyotes finally found the goal in the second off a beautiful goal from Anthony Duclair (17). Though the Coyotes had some momentum off the goal, Josh Manson (4) and Corey Perry (28) put the Ducks up 5-1 after the second period.
Coach Tippett switched goalies to start the third, and Louis Domingue shut the door on the Ducks, but the Coyote offense was unable to cut into the lead. Arizona seemed to show some fight in the third, with both teams exchanging penalties. 18 penalties were assessed, equaling 64 minutes of penalties, and that included two fights and several game misconduct penalties. After all this the Anaheim Ducks won their 10th game in a row with the 5-1 win over Arizona.
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The tone for the final game of the week was set on Friday, as the league handed down a one game suspension on Max Domi for an instigating penalty in the third period of the Ducks game, and Coach Dave Tippett had a closed practice so he could refocus his team. It was a must win game.
The Coyotes needed to get back to winning, and with a nearly sold out Gila River Arena the atmosphere was set for their match-up with the Florida Panthers. Coyotes Captain Shane Doan was recognized prior to puck drop for setting the franchise record in points. With a gold stick in his hand Doan set the tone for the Coyotes and Arizona seemed to hold its own against the Panthers in the first, scoreless after one period.
With left over penalty time rolling over into the second period, the Coyotes began on the penalty kill. Jordan Martinook (9) wasted no time and scored the Coyotes second short-handed goal of the season, 29 seconds in. Minutes later, in his Coyotes debut, Alex Tanguay (5) scored to put the Coyotes up 2-0. The Panthers got on the board with a goal late in the second period; Aaron Ekblad scored his 13th goal of the season.
The Coyotes dominated the third period with Shane Doan (24) scoring on the power play, Tanguay (6) getting a power play goal, and Antoine Vermette (11) finishing the scoring in the last-minute. The Coyotes finally ended their seven game slid with a win 5-1 over the Florida Panthers.
Arizona now sits 10 points out of a playoff spot with 17 games to play. It will be an uphill climb for the team, but the Coyotes being that journey this week as they begin another road trip.
This time they have four games in six nights. The first game of the week will be a homecoming for Alex Tanguay and a match-up with former Coyote Mikkel Boedker; both players were involved in the trade between the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes on the final day of the trade deadline.
From Colorado, the Coyotes will travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Wednesday, then head to Calgary to play the Flames on Friday, and finally the Coyotes will end their road-trip on the second end of a back-to-back as they play the Oilers on Saturday.
The Coyotes need points, and in order to do that they need to start stacking up wins. Win the games on this road trip and they will be back in the hunt for a playoff spot.