Don’t look now, but the Arizona Coyotes are on a two-game win streak and start their four-game road trip with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Somehow, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL has won their last two games by a three-goal margin.
The Coyotes certainly made tonight’s game interesting, with what may be the worst start of the NHL season. New Jersey had all of the possession for the first frame, and the Coyotes couldn’t do anything but defend. The Coyotes were having problems clearing the zone, and more turnovers led to the Devils keeping getting chances.
The Devils took an early lead after the Coyotes took the first penalty of the game. Christian Fischer was in the box for holding, and it didn’t take long for the Devils to capitalize.
The play started with Jack Hughes going hard to the net, but while he couldn’t get his shot off, the puck did get sent back to Jesper Bratt. Bratt immediately sent the puck cross-ice to a wide-open Nico Hischier, who fired, and suddenly it was 1-0 New Jersey.
And things didn’t get much better from there. The Coyotes spent most of the period playing defense and had to kill another late penalty three-quarters of the way through the opening period. Arizona killed the penalty, and finally, they got their first shot on goal with just over a minute left.
The Coyotes finished the first outshot 12-1, but on the bright side, they were only down by a goal. Arizona could still turn things around, but they needed a big second period.
But this is the Coyotes, so they came out flat. It took another three minutes to get their second shot, and things weren’t looking good.
But then, on their third shot on goal, the Coyotes tied things up. The Coyotes had had nothing going for them but all that changed just under seven minutes into the second.
Arizona was getting some rare offensive zone time, and they were doing a good job working the puck below the goal line. Dysin Mayo found some space above the faceoff circle, and when Loui Eriksson sent the puck back, he fired it past Mackenzie Blackwood, netting his third of the season.
Let us hear you say M-AYYOOO. pic.twitter.com/q0lUcv0RlR— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 20, 2022
It was the start of the comeback, but it didn’t take effect immediately. The turning point came a few minutes later when Jesper Bratt took a high-sticking call, and the Coyotes got their first power play of the game.
It was not a good power play, but the Coyotes managed to build a little momentum off it.
Anton Strålman, playing in his first game back, sent the puck to the front of the net, and Loui Eriksson got a few good wacks at it. As Eriksson was hammering away, Lawson Crouse was knocked down to the ice. Crouse was on his knees when the puck landed in front of him, and he was able to fire a shot past Blackwood.
go ahead goal from the Sheriff, it's the law. pic.twitter.com/Z66geMkZNq— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 20, 2022
The Coyotes were suddenly up 2-1, but there was still a problem; Clayton Keller didn’t have a point yet. And in what has become a familiar sight this season, he was determined to change that.
Keller had a few good looks throughout the second, and it was starting to look like just a matter of time before he found the back of the net. But then, three-quarters of the way through the second, Keller kept the zone and fired a shot from up high. Travis Boyd deflected the shot down and past Mackenzie Blackwood, and the Coyotes were suddenly up 3-1.
The second period ended with the Desert Dogs outshot 27-8 and up 3-1. So many times this season, we have seen the Coyotes completely fall apart in the second and give up three or more goals. But for once, we got a chance to see things from the other side.
There were still twenty minutes left, and the Coyotes stilled needed to avoid a collapse. However, things got easier for them when Nathan Bastian sent the puck over the glass just under two minutes into the third, and the Coyotes got an early power play.
Arizona didn’t do much on the power play, but it killed clock and, more importantly, gave the Coyotes a bit of momentum.
Midway through the third, the Coyotes had some decent pressure, and Phil Kessel had the puck on the back wall. Kessel found Crouse posted in front of the net, who quickly passed it up to a wide-open Johan Larsson. Larsson fired the puck, and suddenly the Coyotes were up 4-1.
We haven’t seen the Coyotes do that enough this season. The Coyotes have rarely made the next step and put the game away.
New Jersey didn’t go down without a fight, but that was pretty much it. The Devils pulled Blackwood with over three minutes left, but they couldn’t get anything going even with an extra attacker.
A rough start and a second-period bounceback isn’t a great recipe for long-term success, but the Coyotes found a way to make it work. The team seems to be really clicking right now, and while they aren’t about to completely turn things around, you probably shouldn’t count them out.
- Karel Vejmelka - 35 saves on 36 shots
- Lawson Crouse - Goal and an assist
- Loui Eriksson - Two assists
The Coyotes road trip continues, and they will play the New York Islanders this Friday at 5:30 pm Arizona time.