After getting spanked by the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, the Coyotes needed a response game tonight. They were facing the Anaheim Ducks and had a chance to leap-frog the St. Louis Blues for a playoff spot.
It wasn’t the cleanest win, but the Coyotes beat the Ducks 4-2, moving them up to fourth place in the West Division.
Arizona started things off well enough, controlling the pace for most of the first period. An early power play gave them momentum, and things were looking good. But despite outshooting the Ducks by a healthy margin, the Coyotes were unable to convert.
Anaheim was able to get on the board first off a few Coyotes errors. A poor Clayton Keller drop pass and a bad Oliver Ekman-Larsson lead to an Anaheim 2-on-1. Anaheim failed to score on the first effort first, but Alexander Volkov was left alone, and he fired the puck into a mostly open net.
But the Coyotes responded well and tied things up two and a half minutes later. Johan Larsson entered the zone with speed, passing the puck up the boards to himself, and fired it home past Anthony Stolarz.
The Coyotes had evened things up, but Anaheim seemed to be waking up as the first period expired.
Anaheim got a lucky call early in the second period. Derek Grant fired the puck at the net from the blue line, only for it to bounce off Hill’s chest into the glass behind the net. Jakob Silfverberg was crashing the net, and the puck deflected off his skate into the net.
The phrase “distinct kicking motion” fills hockey fans with dread. It is a subjective call, and not everyone is going to agree with it.
Silfverberg moved his foot forward before the puck deflected off his skate. It wasn’t enough to overturn the call, and suddenly it was a 2-1 game.
We have seen events like this shake the Coyotes in the past. We have seen a controversial goal combined with early problems finishing wreck havoc on the Coyotes’ confidence and affect their play. And while the Coyotes didn’t play their best during the second, they were able to respond.
Arizona had been pretty good at getting chances throughout the game. Their problem, as it so often seems to be, was finishing those chances.
But Lane Pederson, playing in his first NHL game, showed great poise. He drew Stolarz out and put the puck past him into a wide-open net to tie the game up.
Tie game and things had started to get chippy again. We saw our second fight as Larsson dropped the gloves with Adam Henrique. The fight was fairly minor, with no big punches, but the Ducks were definitely alive after a slow start.
Anaheim kept the momentum going in the third, with some sustained offensive zone time. They were applying a lot more pressure than they had in the first period, but they continued allowing the Coyotes to continue getting breakaways and get in close to Stolarz.
And despite his struggles with breakaways a few weeks ago, Phil Kessel found a way to convert on one of those breakaways.
As Kessel dropped below the goal line, he passed the puck back to a streaking Christian Fischer. It would instead hit Alexander Volkov, bouncing off him and into the net.
It was a tenuous lead, but the Coyotes were matching the Ducks' increased pace. And after the Ducks got very close to tying it up, forcing Hill to make a big save and the defense to protect the net, the Coyotes were able to extend the lead on the transition.
Arizona had been great at transitioning out of their zone quickly into the offensive zone. And not long after the Ducks almost tied it up, Nick Schmaltz fired the puck through traffic, giving the Coyotes the 4-2 lead.
NICK SCHMALTZ EXTENDS THE LEAD!!! pic.twitter.com/hBQ3SqjQSP— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) April 3, 2021
The Coyotes had some issues clearing the zone and failed to score on the power play, but they played a solid game. They matched the Ducks as they increased intensity as the game progressed and had a great transition game. We have seen the Coyotes play like this and still fail to score, so it was nice to see them rewarded after a good effort.
- Lane Pederson played in his first NHL game. He was the first player to score in their first game since Michael Bunting.
- Bunting also had a solid game playing with Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland. The line wasn't as much fun as the "Short Leash" Line, but they had a few good looks, including Schmaltz's goal.
- John Hayden took exception to a late hit on Nick Schmaltz and dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers in the first period. Hayden would get a fair amount of ice time, playing 10:22.
- Jordan Gross played in his sixth NHL game and had three assists. Definitely puts pressure to keep him in the lineup.
- Adin Hill looked good since being pulled against Colorado. He didn't have to make many big saves to start the game, but he earned his paycheck by the end of the game.
- Lane Pederson - 1 goal
- Phil Kessel - 1 goal and 1 assist
- Jordan Gross - 3 assists
The Coyotes play the Ducks again on Sunday at 6:00 pm Arizona time.