In a continuing story of sports cliches, good teams find ways to win in bad games. That’s exactly what the Winnipeg Jets did at Gila River Arena tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, downing the desert dogs 4-1.
From the Coyotes’ perspective, the scoreboard is a lot uglier than the product on the ice. Once again Arizona took an early lead and eventually lost the match, but it was still the improved brand of hockey we have begun to see since the most recent Eastern road-trip.
Arizona was the better team for most of the night and were composed against the power-house Jets, but ultimately squandered their shot at victory by wasting four power play opportunities. In contrast, with only 21 shots on goal for the night, Winnipeg were exceptionally productive and made sure that what few chances they got, counted.
1-0 Arizona: After a lengthy segment of Coyotes’ dominance, Alex Goligoski makes the play as the Jets’ levee breaks with players falling down all in front of Steve Mason. Goligoski throws the puck toward the net and it finds its way through the madness, bouncing off Zac Rinaldo and in. Assisted by Goligoski and Derek Stepan at 14:33.
Goligoski from Stepan and Rinaldo, though may have hit Rinaldo on its way through? pic.twitter.com/fmJJNYwlJF— Five For Howling (@Five4Howling) November 12, 2017
1-1 Tie: Going without a shot in the 7 minutes prior, the Jets strike on their next through Matt Hendricks who snipes it in between the legs of an Arizona defender that likely screened Antti Raanta.
2-1 Winnipeg: Mark Scheifele in the slot rips in a power play goal after Dustin Byfuglien manages a nice keep on an Arizona clearing attempt. Luke Schenn got caught as the screen on Raanta after being left alone to cover two Jets in front of the net while the other Arizona penalty killers were caught puck-watching the playmaker.
3-1 Winnipeg: With all the Coyotes looking behind the net where Scheifele has the puck, Kyle Connor goes unnoticed right in front of the goal crease. Scheifele threads the needle and Connor is able to one time the puck home from point blank.
4-1 Winnipeg: Patrik Laine throws the puck into an empty net from center ice to put the result beyond doubt.
Can the Coyotes compete with only half their blueline?
Overall, yes Arizona are managing without Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jakob Chychrun but the argument can be made that our current bottom two defenders, Kevin Connauton (12:18 TOI tonight) and Dakota Mermis (9:08 TOI tonight), are weighing down the rest of our blueliners and wearing them out, resulting in goals that we might not give up otherwise.
Will Keller outscore Laine?
Clayton Keller was held off the score sheet for the third night in a row, indicating that teams are becoming more active in their job neutralizing his play. Laine on the other hand finished with a goal and an assist.
Can Raanta stay consistent?
Statistically speaking Antti Raanta (.850 SVS%) wasn’t pretty tonight. Looking at how the goals were scored however, he can’t be put at fault alone.
Players of the Game
Arizona - Zac Rinaldo - When the Coyotes were hot tonight a large reason why was the active play of Rinaldo jumping and driving the play. His second goal of the season was fun but as soon as things went south for Arizona, so did things for Rinaldo.
Winnipeg - Steve Mason - Arizona did the right thing by peppering the much maligned goaltender but credit is due to Mason (.967 SVS%) who stood tall after a shaky start and did everything within his power to give his team the opportunity to win.
Third Star: ARI - Z. Rinaldo
Second Star: WPG - S. Mason
First Star: WPG - M. Scheifele (1G, 1A)
- For more on the Winnipeg Jets, head on over to Arctic Ice Hockey.
- Healthy scratches for the Coyotes tonight included Nick Cousins and Joel Hanley.
- Alex Goligoski remained in the lineup after spending the last few days ‘day-to-day.’ After tonight’s match, Goligoski has now played in 180 consecutive NHL games.
- Tonight the Coyotes honoured Equipment Manager Stan Wilson for working his 2,000th NHL game on November 6th against the Washington Capitals.
- During the first period Christian Fischer took a rough ride into the end boards from Josh Morrissey and went off towelling his forehead for blood. He returned prior to the first intermission and played the remainder of the game.
The Coyotes now head to Winnipeg to play the Jets in the second match of the home-and-home series on Tuesday night. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona or tuned into on KTAR News 92.3 FM.