The Arizona Coyotes need a big win tonight. They have struggled lately, and they need points to get back into a playoff spot. And, more importantly, they needed a confidence boost going into the end of the season.
Tonight’s game didn’t start with the Coyotes in complete control. The first few minutes were all Los Angeles, with the Kings outshooting the Desert Dogs 4-1 through the first five minutes.
That wouldn’t last long as the Coyotes would take control and not give it up for the rest of the game.
Arizona played really well, making the Los Angeles Kings spend most of the game in their own zone. And things didn’t slow down much when the Kings got the first power play of the game.
Michael Bunting was in the box for hooking, and the Coyotes still found a way to maintain control. Los Angeles wasn’t even able to get a shot on goal with the man advantage.
The Coyotes would build off that successful kill and keep applying pressure. And the Yotes were rewarded midway through the period when Derick Brassard back-handed the puck to John Hayden, who fired it past Calvin Petersen for his first goal of the season.
Arizona had complete control of the game, and the Kings would go over 13 minutes without a shot on goal. The first period ended with the Coyotes outshooting the Kings 12-6.
But that was just one period, and we have seen the Coyotes have a good start only to fall apart when the other team makes adjustments. That didn’t happen this time, with the Coyotes starting the second period going to work in the Kings’ zone.
It didn’t take long for it to pay off either. Just over half a minute into the period, Alex Goligoski fired the puck on net from the point. Lawson Crouse was waiting in front of the net and redirected the shot down and in.
But the Coyotes wisely didn’t stop with the two-goal lead. They had an early power play, and while they couldn’t convert, they didn’t end up losing any momentum.
The game would reach the halfway point with the Coyotes outshooting the Kings 24-8, and there wasn’t much sign of that letting up. And even when the Kings started their push late in the period, the Coyotes did a good job keeping them to the outside and not letting them score.
With two periods in the book, the Coyotes were looking good. They were playing the right way and had a 2-0 lead. But we have seen how important the third period can be for the Coyotes, and there was still a lot of hockey to play.
Arizona got another early power play, with Drew Doughty being called for interference at 3:34. It was another solid power play, with the Coyotes getting a lot of offensive zone time.
But the difference between this power play and the first is that the Coyotes managed to score.
It was a deceptively simple play. The Coyotes had the zone, and Alex Goligoski passed it over to Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun skated it to the top of the face-off circle and fired a rocket at the goal, giving the Desert Dogs the 3-0 lead.
The third goal is very important for both these teams. Over and over this season, we have seen the Coyotes play good games but not score, and it was great seeing everything come together with goals.
Phil Kessel must have been feeling left out by all of this. He already had an assist from the Lawson Crouse goal, but he wanted one of his own.
And he got it in the final ten minutes of the game. He picked up the puck at the blue line, brought it in, and fired. The puck went above Pedersen’s glove, and suddenly it was a 4-0 game.
The Coyotes continued the strong play, making sure that Darcy Kuemper got his shut out. He had to do more work in the third period, doing his part to protect the Coyotes’ lead.
Los Angeles played last night, and the Coyotes definitely took advantage of a tired team. But they still played one of their better games this season, and they won playing their style.
Arizona is going to play teams below them a lot, and in the past, we have seen the Coyotes play down to their competition. But if they play their remaining games like this, they have a good shot of making the post-season.
- Before the game, it was announced that Antti Raanta was day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
- Also before the game, the St. Louis Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche temporarily moving them into the fourth spot. They still have three games in hand, so the Coyotes can't afford to let up.
- With an assist on the first goal, Derick Brassard now has 500 career points.
- Christian Fischer blocked a shot on the penalty kill and ended up looking in pain for the rest of his shift.
- Jakob Chychrun now leads all defensemen with 14 goals.
- Drew Doughty led all players in time on ice, playing 26 minutes and 44 seconds.
- Another big factor in the Coyotes keeping control, they won 58% of the faceoffs. Winning the faceoff helps you control the puck, and it is another thing that the Coyotes have struggled to do consistently.
- Darcy Kuemper - 26 saves on 26 shots
- Phil Kessel - Goal and an assist
- Jakob Chychrun - Goal
The Coyotes head north and will be facing off against the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 on Monday.