The Arizona Coyotes returned to the desert with a big chip on their shoulders. After a solid first game where they fell apart in the third and a game where they struggled to keep up with the Vegas Golden Knights, they needed a bounceback game.
Arizona's last game was a stark contrast to the first game. In that game, the Vegas Golden Knights looked checked out the first two periods, allowing the Coyotes to have a 2-0 lead for the first 33 minutes of the game and look dominant.
Friday's game was completely different. The Coyotes weren't dominant, but they kept up with a Vegas team that was actually trying through the first two periods.
A big issue in the first two games was how the Coyotes responded when the Golden Knights scored. Vegas goals came with a significant shift in momentum, and the shift was extremely noticeable.
That didn't happen on Friday.
The Coyotes scored first with Christian Dvorak getting his first goal of the season on the power play early in the first period. Vegas' first goal would come early in the second period, when just over a minute in Shea Theodore recovered the puck in the Coyotes' zone and fired a wrist shot past Darcy Kuemper.
In prior games, this could have been the end. But the Coyotes kept up the pressure, and six and half minutes later Derick Brassard scored his first of the season. And even then they continued to play hard and Nick Schmaltz scored, giving him a three-game goal streak.
The Coyotes response was exactly what the team needed. And it is great to see them get offense from their best players.
Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, and Conor Garland all had goals and they are the players the Coyotes need to get and stay hot. Derick Brassard and Jordan Oesterle also scored their first of the season on Friday, giving the team much needed secondary scoring.
Consistency is going to be an ongoing issue for the Coyotes for this game, and the rest of the season moving forward. They need to find a way to play a sixty-minute game, and when the other team scores they need to find a way to properly respond.
But the Coyotes game Friday they seemed to find a comfortable rhythm. They didn't go all out and wear themselves out and they played a full sixty-minute game.
The Coyotes didn't deserve to finish the series pointless. But the series isn't over yet, and Arizona still has a chance to earn some much-needed points from a tough team.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - Garland has looked good this series and has been one of the Coyotes' top players this season. He had a goal and two assists in the last game and currently leads the team with six points.
Vegas: Shea Theodore - Theodore had the Golden Knights' first goal of the game and assisted in the second game. He has looked good so far, and in the three games already played he has five points.
Arizona: Antti Raanta (undisclosed), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower body)
Vegas: Jiri Patera (undisclosed)
Tonight's matinee game will be at Gila River Arena at 2:00 pm. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona and will be available on the radio on Fox Sports 910 AM.