Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues was a mixed bag.
The Arizona Coyotes fell 4-3 during regulation, losing two much-needed points and starting their six-game road trip on the wrong foot. But Arizona still had a good showing, and held up with the top team in the West Division.
Arizona started strong and took the lead early with a goal from Christian Dvorak. It would be Arizona’s lone goal of the period. Arizona failed to sustain pressure, and the Blues tied the game before the end of the first.
St. Louis would come out strong in the second and took the lead less than four minutes in when Justin Faulk was able to walk through two Coyotes players and scored five-hole.
Arizona would tie it back up not three minutes later with a power play goal from Christian Dvorak, only for the Blues to retake the lead later in the period.
And despite St. Louis’ lead increasing to 4-2 just 1:44 into the third, the Coyotes still kept going. With Darcy Kuemper pulled an extra attacker on the ice, Arizona did get their third of the night from Nick Schmaltz. That sadly would not be enough, and the Desert Dogs fell 4-3.
Towards the end, it did look like the Coyotes were going to be able to retake control. Jordan Binnington looked to be fighting the puck, and who knows what could have happened with some more pressure.
Binnington may have won the game, but St. Louis may be looking to switch up their goaltender. Backup goaltender Ville Husso has played three NHL games and has a 4.40 goals-against average and a .865 save percentage. If the Blues go with Husso, the Coyotes need to find a way to take advantage.
The goals closely reflected the flow of the game as well. St. Louis took control of the momentum just before they scored and kept it for most of the second and third.
Arizona did have a few bright flashes and kept St. Louis from completely dominating the game. But with more pressure, the Coyotes made more mistakes, and the Blues were able to capitalize.
Special teams on Tuesday would prove to be very important for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes only had two opportunities and managed to convert on one. That goal tied the game at the time, proving how vital the power play can be.
Tuesday also featured the Coyotes running a perfect penalty kill. St. Louis had five opportunities, and they were held off the board the entire time. Given the team was missing both Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer, two big pieces in their penalty kill, it was great to see them adapt.
Arizona is going to want to show more discipline tonight. A good penalty kill is vital to success, but it is better not to test your luck.
Tonight should be the first appearance this season for Coyotes defenseman Ilya Lybushkin. With the season in doubt, players including Lybushkin went overseas to get in some playtime. He played five games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL and was pointless during that stretch.
Unfortunately, this has caused Lybushkin to deal with some visa issues. He missed training camp and the start of the season but should be available tonight.
Lyubushkin isn’t a vital part of the Coyotes’ blue line, but the Coyotes have felt his absence. With Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson sidelined with a lower-body injury, the rest of the defense has had to step up in a big way. The team has used Victor Söderström, Kyle Capobianco, and Jordan Gross since Ekman-Larsson went down. Lyubushkin himself does not fill that void, but he will add a physical presence and add some stability and experience to the lineup.
If there was ever a night not to leave anything in the tank, tonight is the night. Yesterday the NHL announced that the Coyotes’ next two games against the Minnesota Wild will need to be rescheduled due to Covid-19 protocols.
Arizona is off until next Tuesday, while the Blues faces the Colorado Avalanche this Saturday. To capitalize on this rare moment, the Coyotes need to take full advantage and leave nothing on the ice tonight.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Christian Dvorak - For the second game in a row, Christian Dvorak scored twice. Dvorak now leads the team with five goals nine points in nine games.
St. Louis: Mike Hoffman - Hoffman had the Blues’ first goal of the game and led his team with four shots on goal. The Blues need players like Hoffman to generate offense with Tarasenko sidelined with the shoulder injury.
Arizona: Christian Fischer (upper body), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower body), Lawson Crouse (undisclosed)
St. Louis: Tyler Bozak (questionable, upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Tonight’s game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.