It wasn’t pretty, but the Arizona Coyotes have their first win of the season. The Coyotes walk out of Toronto after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in a roller coaster of a game in Toronto.
The game started like we’ve all come to expect with the Arizona Coyotes this season, an early penalty. J.J. Moser took the first call of the game just 34 seconds in, getting sent to the box for cross-checking, putting the Yotes immediately down a man.
The Leafs couldn’t capitalize on their first power play, and not long after Moser was out of the box, the Coyotes got their first power play with Nicolas Aube-Kubel sitting for two for kneeing. The Coyotes continued to take far too many penalties, but their opponents kept up with them this time.
Arizona didn’t manage a shot on their first power play, and neither team scored on their first power plays. But penalties would be a consistent theme, and the game would ultimately be a battle of special teams.
The Coyotes’ power play may have come up short in their first attempt, but it has been surprisingly effective this season. And thanks to Barrett Hayton forcing an interference call as Nick Ritchie was getting out of the box, the Coyotes got another shot with the man advantage.
Arizona had been building momentum as the opening period progressed, and a power play was just what the team needed. With 26 seconds left, Nick Ritchie fired a pass past Erik Kallgren to give the Coyotes their first lead of the season.
So fresh. So clean. pic.twitter.com/H7i7tAfLWQ— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 17, 2022
Players always want to give it their all against the team that traded them, and it has to be all the sweeter that Ritchie scored against the Maple Leafs. He had only two goals with the Leafs in 33 games last season, and he already has three goals this season.
The Coyotes came out ready to work in the second, and the slow start was far behind them. They continued to put in the work, and midway through the period, Nick Bjugstad sent the puck up to the front of the net, where Christian Fischer hit it home, putting the Coyotes up 2-0.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. pic.twitter.com/aT6Ef9PmfA— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 18, 2022
Fischer had a great look earlier in the period and has been a stand-out player this season. Few players have tried harder than Fischer to start this season, and it is great to see him rewarded with an early goal.
Arizona kept up the pressure after the goal, partly thanks to another power play. Justin Holl sat for two minutes after sending the puck over the glass, and the Coyotes were able to keep up the pressure. Holl had previously gotten away with high-sticking Clayton Keller, so maybe the hockey gods were trying to right a wrong by sending his shot over the glass.
Both teams took penalties as the second period expired, but both penalty kills stayed strong. And while the Coyotes may have had the lead as the puck dropped on the third, the game was far from over.
The Coyotes decided to make things extra difficult for themselves when Travis Boyd got sent to the box for tripping Auston Matthews just over five minutes into the final frame. Arizona killed that penalty, but continuing to give the Leafs chances would prove a mistake.
Midway through the period, with Jack McBain in the box for holding, William Nylander picked up a loose puck and fired it past Karel Vejmelka to cut the Coyotes’ lead in half.
Toronto showed why you don’t want to give them an inch when they tied the game just 24 seconds later. Troy Stecher’s clearing attempt hit J.J. Moser’s skate and popped right in front of Mitchell Marner, who effortlessly put it in the back of the net.
Marner’s goal thankfully woke up the Desert Dogs, and they didn’t take any more penalties as the game expired.
The Coyotes would get one last power play with just over two minutes left in regulation. Calle Järnkrok was in the box, and Shayne Gostisbehere fired a shot past Kallgren, scoring the game-winning goal.
Kells ➡️ Ghost pic.twitter.com/cyZj4YiZmR— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 18, 2022
But it wouldn’t be a Coyotes game without controversy.
Not long after the Coyotes regained their lead, the Maple Leafs appeared to tie the game, only for the Situation Room to reverse the goal. The official ruling was a hand pass that went uncalled, and the Coyotes maintained their 3-2 lead.
Toronto couldn’t get another equalizer, and a Lawson Crouse empty-netter, guaranteeing the Yotes’ victory.
Lawson Crouse scores against the Toronto Maple Leafs to make it 4-2 #TORvsARI #LeafsForever #Yotes pic.twitter.com/Hulfm4N77y— nopClips (@nopClips) October 18, 2022
Lines. Are. In. pic.twitter.com/Xj1DSey2nh— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 17, 2022
- Christian Fischer - Goal and an assist
- Nick Ritchie - Goal and an assist
- William Nylander - Goal
The Coyotes’ road trip continues, and they will play the Montréal Canadiens this Thursday at 4 pm.