Penalties, penalties, penalties. The Florida Panthers kept taking them until they lost.
They spent more time in time out than an unruly first grader.
A tripping penalty midway through the third period, Florida's sixth of the game, allowed the Coyotes to tie the score on Justin Hodgman's first career NHL goal in his NHL debut. A hi-sticking penalty in overtime, Florida's eighth, allowed Oliver Ekman-Larsson to play OT hero for the second time this season.
The Coyotes broke out of a 127+ minute scoring slump and are starting to look more and more like the "Hockey The Hard Way" team of old, Mike Smith included.
Smith stopped 23-of-24 shots for his second very solid game in a row. Things appear to be turning around for No. 41.
Despite an inability to score 5-on-5, the Arizona Coyotes outplayed the visiting Panthers throughout the game. The final shot total of 41 to 24 tells the story, but the disparity looks even bigger considering the Yotes put 77 shots toward the net.
"You throw that many pucks at the net and the odds have to be with you," coach Dave Tippett said. "We had a lot on the power play, a lot of power play shots tonight which when they are power plays they can generate chances and generate shots and that's one of the strengths of it so we have to keep pounding away at that. I mean scoring 5 on 5 we can certainly improve but when we put that many shots at the net we're going in the right direction."
A rather uneventful first two periods mercifully gave way to a third period with some offense.
Brandon Pirri's backhander in close put the Panthers on the board, but the Coyotes answered right back.
Hodgman scooped up a Lauri Korpikoski rebound on the powerplay to tie the game. After playing last season in the KHL, not knowing if his NHL dream would ever come true, the 26-year-old rookie was the happiest guy in the building.
"There were some tough times being over there, but I just made the decision that I was going to come back and give it a go. No matter what the contract was, I'd come back here," Hodgman said. "I just figured this might be my last shot with my age getting up there.
"Right now it's paying off and I'm just going to keep working and keep this thing rolling."
Moments like that are why people love sports.
"Last year at this time he's playing in Russia somewhere and he has a family back home watching that game probably and he's feeling good, I mean those are stories, that's why you play the game to be a NHL player and score a NHL goal and to get one in his first game at his age is pretty special," Tippett said.
Ekman-Larsson sealed the deal with his second OT goal of the season, bring the Coyotes back to .500 at 3-3-1.
"I think Yandle passed it down to Gagner and he passed it up to me, and I just one-timed it… so it was a great feeling to see it go in," Ekman-Larsson said.
Arizona will look to build off of Saturday's success as they head out on the road for four games.
- Florida's perspective: Litter Box Cats
- Antonie Vermette played in his 400th consecutive NHL game on Saturday.
- Justin Hodgman made his NHL debut and scored, so that's pretty cool.
- The Coyotes are now 5-0-1 against the Panthers under Dave Tippett.
- Attendance: 13,202
1. Mike Smith - Stopped 23 of 24 pucks en route to his second quality start in a row.
2. Justin Hodgman - A goal in his first career game.
3. Gin Blossoms - They probably scored more tonight than these two teams.
The Coyotes' road trip begins on Tuesday in Tampa Bay. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.