It wasn’t the position the Arizona Coyotes wanted to be in when the season started. And as a result, the Coyotes will again head into the offseason with more questions than answers.
Arizona dropped a 3-1 decision on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild in their final game of the 2016-17 season. They finish the year with a record of 30-42-10.
1-0 Minnesota - A dangerous play by Mike Smith behind the net resulted in a goal early in the first, as his attempt to play the puck bounced off of Jordan Martinook’s stick and onto the stick of a rapidly approaching Jason Pominville, who was able to poke the puck to a wide open Erik Haula, who in turn tapped it into the open cage as Smith dove to get back in front. Assist to Pominville on the goal at 4:13.
2-0 Minnesota - The Wild would strike on the power play as the Coyotes are simply unable to get the puck away. After several close whacks in front of Smith, it’s ultimately Eric Staal who one-times the puck in from the far-side faceoff circle. Assist to Charlie Coyle on the power play goal at 10:47.
No scoring in the second frame, as both teams combine for 19 shots and Connor Murphy and Erik Haula trade high-sticking minors.
2-1 Minnesota - Arizona got on the board early enough to make it a game, as Shane Doan took a hard slap shot from the near-side point that deflected perfectly off of Darcy Kuemper’s pads and to a streaking Brendan Perlini. Perlini one-timed the rebound past Kuemper to cut Minnesota’s lead in half. Assists to Doan and Alex Goligoski on the goal at 2:59.
3-1 Minnesota - Martin Hanzal scored against his former team for his 20th goal this season. On the power play, all four Coyotes defenders collapsed into the crease, and when Mikko Koivu’s sharp angle shot made it all the way through the crease to the far side, Martin Hanzal was right there to finish. Assists to Koivu and Matt Dumba on the power play goal at 13:35.
1. Can the Coyotes end on a high note? - It wasn’t a great performance unfortunately, but it also wasn’t an embarassing one. Watching Craig Cunningham drop the puck was worth the price of admission all by itself.
'Inspiration' Craig Cunningham drops puck months after near death pic.twitter.com/DucR9Rf2J1— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 9, 2017
2. Will the Domi-Burmistrov-Duclair Line be dominate again? - Domi-Burmistrov-Duclair finished for a combined -4 in shot attempts for/against tonight, which was second best on the team tonight behind Tobias Rieder, Jordan Martinook, and Lawson Crouse.
3. Will we see the end of two careers tonight? - Unfortunately, we won’t be able to answer this one tonight. Both Doan and Michalek have a lot to think about this summer.
Players of the Game
Minnesota - Eric Staal - After last year’s debacle with the New York Rangers, it was something of an open question whether or not Eric Staal was still a go-to guy in the NHL. With a goal tonight to bring his total on the year to 28, the answer is yes.
Arizona - Shane Doan - Doan had a primary assist on the Perlini goal, and all eyes turn towards him as he decides his future this summer. He finishes the year with 27 points, just 28 shy of 1,000 in his career. If this is goodbye, Doan has solidified himself as one of Arizona’s great professional athletes.
- For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness.
- Zbynek Michalek dressed in what will likely be his final NHL game. He played 19:48 and was on the ice with Shane Doan for the final minute of play.
- Zach Parise took an inadvertent high-stick to the face from Nino Niederreiter early in the third period. He went to the bench to stop the bleeding, but remained in the game.
- Christian Dvorak set a franchise record for faceoff wins by a rookie. He did so by beating the previous record holder - Martin Hanzal - on a draw in the third period.
- Arizona finishes the season with 70 points. Should the Vancouver Canucks record a point in either of their last two games, they would pass the Coyotes for 28th in the standings. If not, Arizona will remain in 28th, and tied for the third best Draft Lottery odds with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Arizona’s season is over, but there’s plenty more Coyotes coverage to be had during the offseason, with Draft strategy, prospect updates, and signings. Be sure to stick with Five For Howling all throughout the offseason, as there’s a lot of great content yet to come.
Thank you for following along with us this season, and for the last time as Managing Editor, thank you for reading.