The Arizona Coyotes probably aren’t going to make the playoffs this season. The St. Louis Blues are too far ahead, they are playing much better, and they have too many games in hand. The Coyotes know that if they even want a chance at making the postseason they are going to have to be close to perfect.
And with all that in mind, the Coyotes beat the Vegas Golden Knights last night 3-0. The Coyotes need to be perfect to finish off the season and that is as good a start as they can get.
It was one of the better efforts by the Desert Dogs this season. They outshot the Golden Knights, beat them 32-25 in the faceoff circle, and had a perfect penalty kill.
Scoring first definitely helped the Coyotes find success tonight. After seeing them give up 4-0 and 3-0 leads to the San Jose Sharks, it was refreshing to see the Coyotes have a solid start.
It will be difficult for the Coyotes to replicate last night’s performance. Vegas is a good team, and they are going to make adjustments to turn things around tonight.
Which is going to make the first period more important tonight. Another early goal would give the Yotes some breathing room and some much-needed confidence against a tough opponent.
The Coyotes are also going to want to work on their power play. Arizona’s power play struggles have been a consistent source of pain this entire season, and it has cost them some games.
We saw that last night when the Coyotes failed to convert on either of their power plays. After killing the first one, the Golden Knights rebounded and had their best push of the second period. And the Coyotes weren’t even able to finish their second one before they took a penalty, and it went to 4-on-4.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz has four points in his last three games, including an assist last night. His goal production has dropped in the later half of the season, but he is still helping the Coyotes generate offense.
Vegas: Mark Stone - Mark Stone played more last night than any other Vegas forward. Only defensemen Shea Theodore and Alex Goligoski played more. Expect to see a lot of Stone, and expect him to do some crazy stuff with the puck.
Arizona: Antti Raanta (questionable, upper body), Conor Garland (knee), Tyler Pitlick (lower body), Jordan Gross (lower body)
Vegas: Nicolas Roy (questionable, undisclosed), Tomáš Nosek (undisclosed), Ryan Reeves (undisclosed), Patrick Brown (undisclosed), Jiří Patera (undisclosed)
Tonight's game will be at Gila River Arena at 7:00 pm Arizona time and it will air on Bally Sports Arizona+ and Fox Sports 910 AM.