The Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues have each other a lot to start the 2020-21 season. COVID-19 and scheduling issues have created a seven-game series for the division rivals that is set to come to an end this afternoon.
Unfortunately, for the Coyotes, the Blues have gotten better at adapting to the Desert Dogs. St. Louis has won the past two games and come into tonight’s game with a lot of momentum.
Things seemed to be going well for the Coyotes on Saturday. They scored first, with Conor Garland getting his 6th of the season unassisted just 21 seconds into the game. But that just began a back and forth that would continue for the rest of the game.
All credit to the Coyotes, when St. Louis scored, the Coyotes pushed back.
After the Blues took a 2-1 lead, Arizona was able to tie it up with a goal from Barrett Hayton. When Ivan Barbashev gave them a 3-2 lead, Nick Schmaltz countered with a goal early in the third.
We even got to see the fourth line in action. Dryden Hunt scored his first of the season, and Christian Fischer was able to get his first assist. As much as the Coyotes have come to depend on the “Short Leash” Line for their offense, it was great to see other lines contributing.
Things fell apart for the Coyotes when it came to overtime. St. Louis was able to apply consistent pressure and keep the Coyotes from getting fresh troops on the ice.
The Coyotes probably don’t want to push their luck going to overtime, and it doesn’t make sense to give a division rival any points in a condensed season. But Arizona walked away with a much-needed point.
If nothing else, this series has shown the Coyotes and their fanbase that they can compete against a top team in the St. Louis Blues. Arizona still needs to work on being a more consistent team and adapt to changes their opponents make. But no matter the outcome tonight, the Coyotes will have a lot to build off of as they prepare to face other opponents.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - When Craig Morgan spoke to Garland during the offseason, Garland spoke of his desire to be more of a playmaker. So far, he has succeeded and has consistently been one of the Coyotes’ best players on the ice and a big part of the top line.
St. Louis: Mike Hoffman - Hoffman has been a big addition to the Blues, despite his arrival being a bit of an issue. He has four goals and two assists against the Coyotes this series, including the overtime game-winner on Saturday.
Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body), Johan Larsson (suspension), Drake Caggiula (lower body), John Hayden (COVID protocol list)
St. Louis: Jaden Schwartz (questionable, lower body), Sammy Blais (questionable, undisclosed), Marco Scandella (upper body), Robert Thomas (thumb), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Tonight's afternoon game will be at 2:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona, NHLN, and Fox Sports 910 AM.