The Arizona Coyotes needed a big game last night. They had fallen out of a playoff spot and had just lost a big game to the Boston Bruins. Thankfully, the Coyotes went all out and beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2.
Things did not start well for the Coyotes with Montreal scoring twice in the first two minutes of the game. The Coyotes have had difficulties with consistent offense throughout the season and a 2-0 lead has proved to be insurmountable in the past.
Arizona would claw their way back from the deficit and win in regulation with goals in each period. Derek Stepan would get his ninth in the first from Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall would score in the second after a great pass from Christian Dvorak, and Jakob Chychrun would get the game-winner on the power play from Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan.
While the team should celebrate the win, there are definite areas of improvement. Giving up two goals in the first two minutes of the game is not a recipe for success. The game-winner shows how important the power play is and the Coyotes were just one for six with the man advantage. Antti Raanta also had to make some huge saves in the third period to keep the score tied, and the Coyotes were outshot 15-6 in the third period.
With the win the Coyotes had briefly regained a Wild Card spot, only to be leap-frogged by the Calgary Flames. They are still only four points behind the first-place Vancouver Canucks and are tied with Winnipeg Jets having played one more game.
Earlier this season the Toronto Maple Leafs made a huge coaching change, firing head coach Mike Babcock and having Sheldon Keefe take over. The Maple Leafs didn’t become an elite team, but they have played well enough to have a playoff spot.
The Maple Leafs have been dealing with some pretty significant injuries. Because of this Toronto acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford this past week from the Los Angeles Kings. Campbell has started the last two games and has a .900 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Derek Stepan - With the first goal of the game Stepan has two points in his last three games. Stepan likely won’t be a 50+ point player this season, but the team is going to need their veteran players in this last stretch.
Toronto: Auston Matthews - Matthews is tied with Alex Ovechkin with 40 goals in 56 games this season. He was pointless in his last game, but before that, he had 11 points in six games.
Arizona: Jason Demers (oblique), Barrett Hayton (conditioning), Darcy Kuemper (lower body)
Toronto: John Tavares (probable, illness), Justin Holl (probable, illness), William Nylander (probable, illness), Kyle Clifford (questionable, personal), Cody Ceci (ankle), Frederick Andersen (questionable, neck), Morgan Rielly (foot), Ilya Mikheyev (wrist), David Clarkson (back), Nathan Horton (back)
Tonight’s game will be in Toronto at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.