This past Saturday may end up proving to be a critical date for the Arizona Coyotes’ season. They stopped the skid of a five-game losing streak, beating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in regulation to retake their playoff spot. And now, they need to maintain that momentum.
Arizona did not have a good start on Saturday, but thankfully they were able to recover. It was almost night and day between the first two periods, with an early goal in the second giving the Desert Dogs the momentum to keep pressing.
The Coyotes found success in the latter two periods by deploying an overwhelming forecheck that forced the Blues to spend most of the game in their own zone. St. Louis had 11 shots on goal in the first period but was limited to only four during the second period and seven during the third.
The consistent pressure forced the Blues to make mistakes. And they weren’t able to capitalize on everything, the Coyotes were able to get that much-needed third goal to propel them to the win.
Micheal Bunting scored the game-winning goal after he re-directed a Jakob Chychrun shot past Jordan Binnington into the back of the net. Bunting has been great since getting activated from the taxi squad, and he has seven goals in 10 games this season. He has a 31.8 shooting percentage, which is probably unsustainable, but he has earned his spot for the rest of the season.
Tonight, the Arizona Coyotes will be facing off against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are a surprisingly good team this season and currently are third in the West Division. But even if they were struggling, this would still be a tough matchup. The past few seasons, the Coyotes have consistently struggled against the Wild, and they failed to win any of the three matchups last season.
Since seeing the Coyotes last Wednesday, the Wild have played two games. Friday and Saturday, they played a back-to-back against the San Jose Sharks, winning both games.
The Scottsdale Sharks scored first in both games, but Minnesota would usually respond with multiple unanswered goals, three on Friday and five on Saturday.
Only one of those goals was on the power play, which fits with the Wild as a team that struggles with the man advantage. Despite those struggles, Minnesota scored three power play goals in their last matchup against the Coyotes, so that trend may not hold true tonight.
Interestingly enough, the Wild were outshot and gave up goals in the third period of both games. It could be due to a switch to a more defensive style that always seems to lead to getting scored on or struggles closing out games. They also allowed a third-period goal against the Coyotes last Wednesday. Either way, the Coyotes need to plan to have a strong third period.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun - Chychrun's offensive side is on display this season, and he has already registered a career-high 13 goals and 18 assists.
Minnesota: Mats Zuccarello - Zuccarello has been hot lately, with four goals in his last three games. He had two goals in his last game against the Coyotes.
Arizona: Jordan Gross (lower body)
Minnesota: Erik Gustafsson (Covid protocol), Jon Merrill (Covid Protocol), Brendan Gallagher (thumb)
Tonight's game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.