The start of the season looked so promising for the Arizona Coyotes. Plenty of offseason roster moves, a new coach, dazzling young players: it seemed like maybe this team could really take major steps forward. For about 35 minutes, that seemed like a reality.
That vision quickly came to a halt, and we are left seeing that, despite the huge increase in talent for this Coyotes team, there are still many hurdles they must collectively clear to improve. The team failed to hold onto a 4-1 lead, dropping the opener to the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in regulation.
1-0 Coyotes - Duclair (1): Anthony Duclair netted the Yotes’ first goal of the season, which came from a 3-on-1 off a turnover. Alex Goligoski and Duke had a nice give-and-go sequence before Duclair potted a goal past a sprawling John Gibson at 4:44 in the first.
2-0 Coyotes - Keller (1): The rookie Clayton Keller started this sequence with a shot and rebound, but the line continued to cycle the puck. Eventually, Keller cut across the middle of the ice to receive a Goligoski feed. Gibson was unable to play the puck, and Keller easily tucked the puck into the net for his first career NHL goal at the 8:32 mark.
2-1 Coyotes - Perry (1): Rickard Rakell fed Corey Perry a cross-ice pass into the offensive zone. Perry sidestepped around Niklas Hjalmarsson before firing the puck past Louis Domingue at 9:16 to cut the lead in half.
3-1 Coyotes - Domi (1 ): An extremely crisp power-play tally: it started with a faceoff win by Christian Dvorak. The puck got back to Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who fired a wrister through traffic. The rebound fell right to Max Domi, who finished on a wide-open net with 8:20 gone in the period.
4-1 Coyotes - Fischer (1): Another power-play goal: this time, with the second unit. Great puck-movement on the power-play up high, and eventually, Goligoski fed Brendan Perlini for a rocket wrister that got tipped by Christian Fischer at the 13:50 mark.
4-2 Coyotes - Perry (2): Another goal from the Rakell-Perry combination. Rakell gathered a pass from just behind the goal-crease and quickly fired the puck to Perry down low, who tipped the puck past Domingue to cut the lead in half at 15:23.
4-3 Coyotes - Kase (1): 31 seconds after Perry’s second goal, the Ducks struck again. The sequence started with Kevin Connauton failing to corral the puck off the boards, and the turnover started the chance. Jakob Silfverberg took the puck into traffic before feeding Ondrej Kase for a shot that found its way through a maze of bodies into the back of the net at 15:54.
4-4 - Cogliano (1): This play started with another Dvorak faceoff win, but Goligoski rimmed the puck around behind the net to nobody in particular. Perry was there to pounce on the puck and fired a quick shot off the wall at Domingue, and Andrew Cogliano got a stick on the puck to redirect it past Louis to tie the game at 13:45.
5-4 Ducks - Rakell (1): The final goal was the worst goal that Domingue gave up all night. A failed clearance by Jason Demers was picked up by Rakell, who got the puck to Cogliano before receiving it back. Rakell, from a very sharp angle, fired a shot that came off Domingue’s glove into the back of the net at 16:30, and that would be the final goal of the game.
Again: the result isn’t great. But not all hope is lost. We had questions entering the game. Were they answered?
Can the Kids keep up?
Absolutely, they can. Keller looked awesome on the ice: he might have been the best player on the ice for either team. Dylan Strome looked very solid. Perlini, Fischer, Domi, and Duclair all had a hand in goals as well. There is no doubt that, while this may be a young team, this is also a feisty team that can present problems for others.
Does OEL look like OEL again?
He definitely looks like he’s back to being a force on the blue-line. OEL was smooth all over the ice, involved both offensively and defensively, and really had a major impact. The struggles of last season appear to be behind him: this was an extremely promising start.
Win or lose, did the team look better than last season?
I get it: we want wins now. That said, this was a supremely encouraging game at points. The team speed is tremendous. The forechecking pressure is awesome. There’s real offensive hockey being played. Yes: there were defensive gaffes and goaltending issues, but growing pains are the norm for young teams. Overall, this team looked and played better than last year’s iteration, and hopefully, progress continues.
Players of the Game:
Arizona Coyotes - Clayton Keller
Again, I thought Keller had a claim as the best player on the ice tonight for either team. He was absolutely buzzing offensively, with a goal and six shots in 19:44 of ice time. Every shift, he seemed to be making an impact. The Calder Trophy hype with Keller is real, and this was a very strong 2017-2018 debut for our diminutive, teenage son.
Anaheim Ducks - Corey Perry
Like him or not (and boy, did he have a Perry-esque incident with Domingue in the second period), it’s hard to ignore a three-point outing. It wasn’t just the point production: it was how noticeable he was on the ice. Perry was an absolute force tonight offensively, getting to his spots for the two goals and creating the equalizer that Cogliano got. Perry underwhelmed last season, and with the Ducks severely undermanned tonight, the veteran stepped up to help his team earn a win.
1st Star - Clayton Keller
2nd Star - Corey Perry
3rd Star - Alex Goligoski
No disagreements from me here. The best player from each team, as well as Goose, who really had a strong game minus the blind pass on the equalizer. Domingue was in the conversation, especially during a really strong second period, but the way this game ended, especially with the final goal, took him out of the running.
- To get the Ducks’ perspective on this game, check out our friends over at Anaheim Calling!
- The Coyotes had a really strong special teams performance: in addition to the two power-play tallies, the Yotes also went a perfect 4/4 on the penalty kill tonight. Have to clean up 5-on-5 play, but again: glean positives.
The next game is the home opener, when the Las Vegas Golden Nights come to town on Saturday, October 7th! Be sure to make it to Red Carpet Night before puck drop at 6:00 p.m. at Gila River Arena! You can find video on Fox Sports Arizona or audio at KTAR.