The Arizona Coyotes 2022-23 season is off to a rough start. A slow start doomed the Desert Dogs, who gave up three goals in the first five minutes and ten seconds before falling 6-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The first five and a half minutes against the Penguins was as bad a start as you can imagine for a hockey game. Sidney Crosby got Pittsburgh on the board just 82 seconds into the game, and it wasn’t long before the Penguins had a 3-0 lead.
Penalties and special teams would prove to be a significant factor in tonight’s game. And while the Coyotes capitalized on two of their five chances, they gave the Penguins six power play chances.
Jason Zucker scored as Nick Schmaltz was leaving the box for a bench minor, and Jake Guentzel scored while Zack Kassian was in the box for holding. It wasn’t always that dramatic, but poorly timed penalties killed any chance of the Coyotes building momentum throughout their time in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, the rough start got even worst during the first intermission with the announcement that Nick Schmaltz would not be returning after sustaining an upper-body injury.
Despite the loss of Schmaltz, the Coyotes found a way to stabilize in the second, thanks in part to Karel Vejmelka making some big saves. After slowly building momentum throughout the second, the Coyotes finally got the board with their third power play.
Nick Ritchie notches the Coyotes’ first goal of the 2022-23 season, with Shayne Gostisbehere and J.J. Moser getting the first assists.
But the Coyotes couldn’t stay disciplined as the middle frame expired, and they fell victim to another last-minute penalty.
Christian Fischer was in the box for hooking, and Evgeni Malkin scored his first of the season. The Coyotes continued to make things difficult for themselves with poorly time penalties.
Special teams continued to play a significant role in the third period. Marcuss Pettersson was in the box for the second time, and the Coyotes converted again.
Take a shower, Ritchie. That was dirty. pic.twitter.com/Vmn2nRb9Pj— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 14, 2022
It was Ritchie from Gostisbehere and Moser for the second time of the night, with Ritchie showing tremendous patience in walking past stretched Tristan Jarry and easily putting it home.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes couldn’t build off Ritchie’s second goal. The Yotes would get a few decent looks but couldn’t get that needed third goal.
The Penguins would regain their three-goal lead late in the third, with Bryan Rust getting his first of the season at 15:01 when they picked up a loose puck and fired it in. Two and a half minutes later, Kasperi Kapanen led a two-on-one and fired a beautiful shot to make it 6-2.
That was it for the first game of the season. The Coyotes have a lot of areas where they need to improve, but in their first game, they showed they don’t go down without a fight.
Is that going to be enough to overcome their many deficits? Probably not, but it could keep things interesting this season.
- Jason Zucker - Goal and an assist
- Nick Ritchie - Goal and an assist
- Bryan Rust - Goal and an assist
The Coyotes are back in action Saturday in another afternoon game, this time against the Boston Bruins at 4:00 pm. The game will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620 AM.