The Arizona Coyotes came into the game tonight hopeful, with Antti Raanta back in net and the announcement of Jakob Chychrun as “week to week” in his recovery from his knee surgery.
That hope was short lived as the San Jose Sharks came out ready to go as they played a safe and solid road game. They seemed to make almost zero mistakes and kept true to their man-on-man duties, leaving the Coyotes offense hemmed in and the defense strung up. To top it all off, Antti Raanta left the game late in the first period after a collision with Logan Couture and was ruled out for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury. Brendan Perlini did keep up his scoring ways though, adding to his total with the lone Arizona goal.
1-0 Sharks (Thornton): Just after Antti Raanta left the game with an upper-body injury and Scott Wedgewood replaced him in net, Joe Thornton won the faceoff to Wedgewood’s left and, thanks to Joe Pavelski, the puck eventually found Brent Burns who fired off a dangerous shot from the point. Wedgewood made the initial save but Thornton was there to pot in the rebound making it 1-0 Sharks with 14:42 left in the first.
2-0 Sharks (Couture): Shortly into the second Arizona seemed to find their game, dominating the shots on goal with 10 to San Jose’s 6, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Off the faceoff, Justin Braun dished the puck to Joonas Donskoi who walked right in, passed it straight across the edge of the blue paint to a wide open Logan Couture who scored backhanded to extend San Jose’s lead to 2-0 at 4:56 in the second. The Coyotes were caught puck watching, too many men focused on Donskoi which left Couture wide open to receive his pass.
2-1 Arizona (Perlini): Just over midway through the third, the Coyotes found their game, once again dominating the possession and it finally paid off. Oliver Ekman-Larsson nabbed the puck from Pavelski at the blue line to bring it back into the Sharks zone and made a nice cross-ice pass to Derek Stepan. Stepan shot it in and Perlini got his stick on it, redirecting it up and behind goalie Martin Jones to cut San Jose’s lead in half at 12:23 in the third.
3-1 Sharks (Ward): The Coyotes pulled Wedgewood for the extra attacker with 1:51 left in the first. The last two minutes didn’t go to plan as Christan Fischer mishandled the puck at the blue line off the faceoff and left Joel Ward the perfect opening to score on the empty net.
- Can Arizona keep up the fight? It seems that the Coyotes travel hangover continues as they have lost another one, but there are some good positives to take from it all (mixed in with the negatives). They played with more fire in the second and third period than they have for some of the entirety of other games they’ve played. Wedgewood was also a shining spot as he stepped up and showed up big in their time of need.
- How much will the injury dynamics influence this game? Unfortunately, a lot. Raanta leaving midway through the first seemed to rattle the team a bit. No matter how many times Stepan and Hjalmarsson and the rest of the team say “next man up”, losing your goalie like that is a pin in the balloon for any team, especially one searching for wins as desperately as the Coyotes are right now. While we may have outskated the Sharks, they definitely outplayed us.
- Who’s going to cover Clayton Keller? It seemed like Keller wasn’t on the list of the Sharks problems tonight. Keller had a quiet game, he registered only one shot on goal and was a -2, and the Sharks seemed to have him readily covered along with the rest of the Arizona team. Perlini and Stepan seemed to be the only Coyotes who could break through and had multiple dangerous chances.
Players of the Game
Arizona - Brendan Perlini wins this one hands down. Everyone else on the Coyotes, except Stepan, had a quiet night as the Sharks man-on-man style of play and hot goalie kept them off the board. Scott Wedgewood made a good bid too with his solid showing.
Sharks - Martin Jones was a warrior for San Jose, keeping all of the Coyotes dangerous shots out of reach. He was a brick wall in front of their net.
3. Brendan Perlini
2. Logan Couture
1. Martin Jones
For more on the San Jose Sharks side of the game, check out Fear the Fin.
In case any of you missed it, Ekman-Larsson seemed to be having some stick trouble tonight. He was up to a count of two broken sticks by midway through the third. Could be frustration, could be he was just playing hard, either way, that’s a lot in one game.
No matter how bad the Raanta situation is, Wedgwood had a really good game. He came in completely cold and unprepared against a team he’s never faced before. That Couture fluke goal aside, he stood tall and made big, monstrous saves when called upon.
The Coyotes have an at home back-to-back with the Los Angeles Kings on Friday the 24th at 7 PM Arizona time and then the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday the 25th at 6 PM Arizona time, both available for viewing on Fox Sports Arizona and listening on ESPN 620AM.