Coyotes Wrap-Up: Sharks, Oilers, Stars, Flyers

Mar 24, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) celebrates with goalie Louis Domingue (35) after beating the Dallas Stars 3-1 at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) celebrates with goalie Louis Domingue (35) after beating the Dallas Stars 3-1 at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

It maybe a little too late for the Arizona Coyotes, but this week has been one of their best and stringing together wins is always a good thing for a young team. The team is now riding a three game win streak, needing to win out in order to even have a chance at the playoffs.

The Coyotes’ week began on Sunday with a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks; it was a second game of a back-to-back and the Coyotes finished their second game without scoring a goal. Joel Ward opened the scoring late in the first period, and the Sharks never looked back. Tomas Hertl added a power play goal in the second, and Joe Pavelski finished the San Jose scoring in the third. Mike Smith made 33 saves in the loss, while his counterpart in James Reimer had 25 saves in the Sharks shutout.

Arizona began their four-game home stand on Tuesday, and seemed to find their scoring beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Alex Tanguay (8) got the Coyotes on the board early in the first. The goal was what the Coyotes had been looking for when they traded Mikkel Boedker for Tanguay, he has great hands, and creates opportunities when he has the puck is on his stick.

When the Coyotes committed a penalty minutes later, the Oilers took advantage when Jordan Eberle got his 23rd goal of the season. The score was tied at one until Martin Hanzal scored his 11th goal on the power play. With the goal Hanzal had scored 99 goals with the Coyotes franchise, just one away from being with a select group of players to reach 100 in their career with the team.

Within minutes Tobias Rieder gave the Coyotes two-goal lead, his 13th goal of the season. It only took 54 seconds for Mark Letestu (10) put one in for the Oilers to cut Arizona’s lead to one after two periods.

The Coyotes’ defense did their job in the third period, and Max Domi put in the empty netter, his 18th of the season, to seal the 4-2 win.

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Louis Domingue got the start in net for the Coyotes on Thursday, standing on his head, and protecting the 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. In these sorts of games, facing one of the best teams in the Western Conference, Arizona always seems to be up to the challenge.

After going back and forth for most of the first period, both team having opportunities to score, the Coyotes got on the board first. Tobias Rieder scored his 14th goal with just under six minutes left in the first. The 1-0 score did not hold for long, as nine seconds later Ales Hemsky (13) scored tying the game.

The Coyotes must have gotten a talking to in the dressing room because just 55 second into the second Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a shot that ricocheted off several bodies and ended up in the back of the net. In game the goal was credited to Martin Hanzal, his 100th goal, but Friday the goal was given to the original shooter Ekman-Larsson.

With the goal, Ekman-Larsson broke the NHL record for the most game-winning goals by a defenseman (8). He has had 21 game winning goals the last three seasons. Though Ekman-Larsson took away Hanzal’s goal in the second period, Hanzal did get his 100th goal in the third. His 12th of the season was short-handed and ended any momentum the Stars had for a comeback.

Domingue stopped 37 shots, and posted a .974 save percentage in the 3-1 win.

This may have been one of the wildest games I have seen in a while. Two desperate teams, one fighting to stay in the playoffs, the other fighting to stay in the hunt, both battling in Glendale. The Philadelphia Flyers were looking to take advantage of a Detroit Red Wings loss, but the Coyotes were standing in their way.

This Flyers-Coyotes game seemed more like a playoff game than two teams trying to stay relevant. In front of a near sellout crowd at Gila River Arena, the battle was won 2-1 by the Coyotes, and man, what a game it was. The first period was uneventful, though both teams had opportunities to score.

The Coyotes had most of the offensive zonetime in the first, but the second was controlled by the Flyers. The one mistake that Philadelphia made was a tripping penalty midway through the second. The Coyotes took advantage, Shane Doan (26) put in Antoine Vermette’s rebound, giving the Coyotes the 1-0 lead. It looked like the Coyotes would have a 1-0 lead going into the third, but Michael Stone had a different plan. There was 8 second left in the period when the Coyotes established possession in the offensive zone, Max Domi got bumped into the goalie, which jarred his mask.

With one second left, Stone got the puck and immediately shot it, scoring a near empty net with 0.5 left. Flyer’s goalie Steve Mason was visibly upset, thinking that the goal should be waved off because of goaltender interference. After two different reviews, one to check if the goal had gone in before the end of the period and the other a coach’s challenge of goalie interference, the goal was confirmed; it was Stone’s 6th goal of the season.

The third period seemed to be like a period out of an old-school hockey movie. After a series of questionable no-calls, for both sides, the game escalated into a Hanzal hit that sparked a tussle that got Hanzal a 5-minute boarding penalty to end the game. Goalie Mike Smith, who had literally stood on his head and even jumped in the air to save a puck, was 40 seconds from a shutout when Sean Couturier got his 10th goal of the season on the power play.

The Flyers were unable to get past Smith again, the Coyotes coming out on top 2-1.

Though both Doan and Stone scored goals in the second, neither was able to finish the game. Doan, who had opened the scoring, was injured when Flyer’s defensemen Radko Gudas hit him into the boards. The original hit was clean, but there was a secondary hit that looked to confuse Doan, and fans thought it should warrant a penalty.

After stumbling to get up, Doan was helped to the bench, skated around then went to the dressing room. After the game Coach Dave Tippett said he looked fine and they kept him out as a precaution. Stone was injured minutes later, when his leg got twisted up with a Philadelphia forward. He immediately hit the ice in clear pain; most of the crowd at the game let out collective “awe” when they saw the replay. The extent of his injury is unknown, but he was unable to put weight on it as he was helped off the ice.

Next: Optimism Regarding Mike Smith for Next Season

The team will finish their home stand Monday when they face the Calgary Flames, then hit the road to play the Dallas Stars before returning home Saturday to face the league leading Washington Capitols. If the Coyotes want to have any chance to make the playoffs, they have to win out and need tons of help in the process.