The Arizona Coyotes came out flying against the Florida Panthers, dominating the first period of play. In that time, the Coyotes out shot the Panthers 11 to 8 and Tobias Rieder recorded his 16th goal of the season on a breakaway.
But Arizona were too content to rest on their laurels and fell asleep during the second period. A strange goal given to Florida by Mike Smith was an early warning sign for the Coyotes, who then bent for most of the period before breaking in the dying minutes of play and allowing two quick Panthers’ goals.
The third was much like the second for the Desert Dogs, with no much going on. Florida, content with this, just stayed alert and rode out their come back to defeat Arizona 3 goals to 1.
1-0 Arizona - Tobias Rieder picks the Panthers’ pocket in the neutral zone and then uses his speed to create a breakaway opportunity for himself. Going in one on one with the net-minder, Rieder makes a backhand to forehand move to roof the puck high over James Reimer to open the scoring. Unassisted at 3:20.
1-1 Tie - After Mike Smith loses control of the puck behind the net he pulls the net down on top of himself as he moves to get back in position. At the same time, Florida control the puck and Shawn Thornton gets off two shots before the net collapses - the first going off Smith’s back and rebounding to Thornton and the second going in for a good goal after review. Assist to Colton Sceviour at 7:38. \
2-1 Florida - A bad pinch by Connor Murphy in the neutral zone leads to a 2 on 1 chance for the Panthers against Alex Goligoski. Goligoski lies down on the ice to try and block the pass, but Aleksander Barkov throws a beautiful saucer pass over him which lands on the tape of Jonathan Marchessault’s stick before ripping it in. Assists to Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau at 17:38.
3-1 Florida - 26 seconds later Florida find themselves on another 2 on 1 chance after Arizona fail to clear the zone. Thomas Vanek moves in on Anthony DeAngelo and Mike Smith before dishing it off to Jonathan Marchessault on the left wing. Marchessault waits a moment before sniping the puck in past Mike Smith who had to move post to post in a hurry. Assists to Vanek and Nick Bjugstad at 18:04.
No scoring in the third as the Coyotes failed to generate much, allowing the leading Panthers to out shoot them 12 shots on goal to 8.
1. Will the Coyotes bring sorrow to another Florida fan base? - For the Coyotes, unfortunately not. For Florida, winning means they live to see another day.
2. Will Christian Fischer continue to make his mark? - Fischer didn’t look out of place on the 4th line for the Coyotes but failed to continue his tradition of scoring against Florida based NHL teams.
3. Can Arizona crack Florida’s air-tight penalty killing unit? - There were no penalties against either side tonight but Florida’s ability to defend was still apparent as they suffocated Arizona’s forwards.
Players of the Game
Arizona - Tobias Rieder - Rieder scored the lone goal for the Coyotes off a brilliant individual effort.
Florida - Jonathan Marchessault - Scored two goals late in the second period within 26 seconds of one another, including the game winning goal.
- For more on the Florida Panthers, check out Litter Box Cats.
- Healthy scratches for the night were Zbynek Michalek and Teemu Pulkkinen, while Shane Doan, Alexander Burmistrov and Kevin Connauton all remain out injured.
- Christian Fischer has now played 4 of his 5 NHL career games against the two Florida teams.
- At the start of the third period, Dave Tippett once again shuffled the offensive lines resulting in a forwards’ unit that looked like this:
1. Perlini - Dvorak - Vrbata
2. Domi - Martinook - Rieder
3. McGinn - Holland - Duclair
4. Crouse - Jooris - Fischer
- In a nice shoutout to the Chychrun family, the South Florida Media team who picked the three stars of the night named Jakob Chychrun the third star.
Arizona will now head on up to D.C. to play the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 4:00 PM Arizona time and can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona or tuned into on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.