The first game of the season is officially in the books. The Arizona Coyotes started slow and were outplayed by the San Jose Sharks in the first period and finished the period down 2-0. But once the first twenty was over and the rust was shaken off they came out and were the better team for the second two periods. They were able to tie the game with seconds left, only to fall in the shootout.
But the Coyotes aren't going to have a lot of time to dwell on the slow start or falling in the shootout. They will be playing Sharks again this afternoon, a common experience in the condensed and travel-limiting 2020-21 schedule.
Arizona does have a lot of positives to build off of going into their second game.
They got offense from their best players, with Clayton Keller, Conor Garland, and Phil Kessel all recording goals. One of those goals came on the power play, hopefully, a sign of good things to come this upcoming season.
Arizona also got offense from their blueline, something the team has been hoping for since bringing in Phil Housley. Jakob Chychrun had two assists, Alex Goligoski had one, and though he was held pointless Oliver Ekman-Larsson looked solid and had a few good drives to the net.
Although the new players didn't show up on the score sheet, they looked good in the season opener. The Coyotes had a limited training camp, but Tyler Pitlick, Derick Brassard, Drake Caggiula, and Johan Larsson slotted well in the lineup and fit perfectly with few lapses.
Last season, the Scottsdale Sharks finished at the bottom of the Pacific Division. They weren't expected to finish much higher this season, but that is why you have to play the games.
Martin Jones was a big part of the Sharks' win on Thursday. He was good at 5 on 5, on the penalty kill, and in the shootout. Jones is coming off two rough seasons, but if he has re-gained his form the Sharks may be a team to watch this season.
In addition to their goaltending, the Sharks also got offense on Thursday. Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane both finished with three points and John Leonard had two assists in his first game.
But even with that offense, the Coyotes were able to keep the Sharks' blueline pointless. San Jose pays their defensemen a lot, with Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc-Édouard Vlasic have a combined cap hit of $26.5 million and they were all held pointless.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller had a rough first period, but was one of the better players in the second two periods. There are high expectations for him this season, and so far he looks good.
San Jose: Tomas Hertl - Hertl had two goals and an assist in the last game and was one of the better Sharks players. Hertl can score goals is one of the Sharks' better goalscorers.
San Jose: Radim Simek (questionable, knee), Rudolfs Balcers (personal), Maxim Letunov (undisclosed)
Today's game will be at 2:00 pm Arizona time and will be at Gila River Arena. It will air on NHLN and Fox Sports Arizona and on the radio on Fox Sports 910 AM.