The Coyotes scored twice on the power play in the first period, and held on to defeat Toronto 4-3 in regulation at the Air Canada Centre Monday night.
Arizona got off to a hot start by utilizing their speed. Scott Harrington took a tripping penalty at 6:23 of the first period. On the ensuing faceoff, Martin Hanzal and Michael Stone found Max Domi, who did for the Coyotes what made him a can't miss prospect playing for Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championship, and gave Arizona an early 1-0 lead.
The Coyotes would get two chances to score again interspersed with a Shawn Matthias goal, who capitalized on a rebound in the crease at 13:08. The first - a Martin Hanzal re-direct - was waved off for being played with a high-stick. The second - generated by a James van Riemsdyk penalty on Steve Downie - turned into a Shane Doan goal. Doaner got a wide-open net after James Reimer over-corrected on an Oliver Ekman-Larsson wrister that missed the net. The Coyotes went into the locker room up 2-1.
In the second period, Arizona continued to impose its will on Toronto's forwards. The defensive corps broke through at 7:38 of the second period, when Klas Dahlbeck ripped a shot past Reimer after getting practically half the offensive zone to himself. Arizona would go into the second intermission with a two goal lead.
Not content with three, the Coyotes made it four. Kyle Chipchura and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a beautiful passing sequence that ended with Chipchura potting a rebound in front of Reimer.
After the Chipchura goal at 7:00 however, Toronto mounted a comeback. James van Riemsdyk took advantage of a blown pinching play by Zbynek Michalek at 9:05 of the third, and Morgan Rielly scored six on five at 17:34 to bring the Leafs to within one. They were not able to get the tying goal, and Arizona came away with a 4-3 victory.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Nazem Kadri - With injuries to Tyler Bozak and Nick Spaling. Kadri is leading Toronto's center corps. He tallied two assists on the night for Toronto in the third which nearly brought the Leafs all the way back.
2nd Star - Mikkel Boedker - Two assists for the Danish wonder on the night. Five points in two games is not bad at all.
1st Star - Kyle Chipchura - Chipchura played one of his best games so far in a Coyotes uniform. He scored the game winner and assisted on Dahlbeck's tally.
Fancy Stat Report
The Coyotes hung tough with the Leafs up until they opened up a three goal lead. Score effects are a heck of a thing if you are a forward:
|Arizona Coyotes||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|First Period Corsi Events||15||18|
|Second Period Corsi Events||18||15|
|Third Period Corsi Events||6||30|
|Total Corsi Events||39||63|
Case in point:
Once again, when the score has been close, the Coyotes kept the possession close. That's a very good sign for this team moving forward. That being said, the Coyotes do need to work a bit harder to not completely turtle with the lead.
- Tyler Gaudet looked very composed in his season debut for the Coyotes. He has been a favorite of Dave Tippett's for several years now, and it's not hard to see why. He plays hard along the boards, takes and gives hits to make plays, and in general makes good choices with the puck. It would not surprise me if he stayed up for the duration of Joe Vitale's injury.
- Losing Martin Hanzal for any extended period of time would be a big problem for the Coyotes, given Antoine Vermette's health is already suspect. How big of a problem? Well, Hanzal sits alone at the top of the NHL in assists. So someone else is going to have to give Arizona's skilled wingers the puck if Hanzal has to miss time.
- Another "meh" night for Mike Smith, who made 24 saves on 27 shots. These were the kinds of games Arizona was losing 3-2 and 3-1 last season; so having offensive firepower will likely work wonders to help Smith on average nights.
Arizona plays again tonight against the Boston Bruins to finish their East Coast road trip. Game time is at 4:00 PM.