After dropping two games to the Los Angeles Kings in five days, the Arizona Coyotes needed a solid bounce-back game. The Coyotes have some tough competition this week, and they could use some momentum going into those games. Thankfully, they got that win, with the Desert Dogs beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1.
Despite the ending, the Coyotes did not have a good start. Nick Ritchie started his career as a Coyote well with a big hit only to be sent to the box for interference that same shift. Less than two minutes in, the Coyotes were already on the penalty kill.
Arizona managed to kill the early penalty, but they headed back to the box when Lawson Crouse was called for hooking just under five minutes into the game. Arizona has had some rough starts lately, but taking two penalties in the opening ten minutes is ridiculous.
The Coyotes did find a way to rebound, and they ended the first in a relatively decent position. They were being outshot 16-9 and couldn’t get much going on a late power play, but the score was tied 0-0, and there was plenty of hockey to be played.
Arizona has struggled in the middle frame this season, but they have recently found better ways to respond to teams making a push. They were doing a decent job at keeping up last night, and the game was still scoreless midway through the period.
Vegas finally found a way to break through just over 11 minutes into the middle frame. Scott Wedgewood made the first save on a crashing William Carrier, but Carrier kept up with the play and picked up his own rebound and turned and fired. Wedgewood was partially screened and seemed to lose track of the puck. Just like that, it was 1-0 Vegas.
Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the Coyotes to respond. Just over three minutes later, Shayne Gostisbehere fired the puck from the point through traffic past Laurent Brossoit, tying the game at 1-1.
It was Ghost’s first goal since January 29th against the Buffalo Sabres, and it was great to see him get on the score sheet.
Arizona got a late power play when Zach Whitecloud was called for high-sticking with less than two minutes left in the period, but the Coyotes couldn’t get much going before the period expired.
But the important thing was that the Coyotes had tied things up before the start of the final period. So if they won the period, they would win the game.
Thankfully, the Coyotes did not waste a lot of time taking the lead. Again, it was another shot from the point, this time Anton Strålman firing it down the middle of the ice. Brossoit should have been able to make the save, but Nick Schmaltz redirected the puck past him, and for the first time all game, the Coyotes had the lead.
It's the leg kick celly for us. pic.twitter.com/dCEXLxk5PC— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 26, 2022
Of course, things didn’t get any easier from there. They could have gotten easier if the Coyotes managed to score on their power play midway through the third, but they didn’t, and Vegas kept things close.
Scott Wedgewood continued to make some big saves, eventually stopping 43 of the 44 Vegas shots. And with 31 seconds left in regulation, the Coyotes were able to clear the zone, and Nick Schmaltz knocked a Clayton Keller pass into the empty net for a final score of 3-1.
There was a lot to like about last night’s game. They were perfect on the penalty kill and found a way to score three goals against a tough Vegas team. They also did a good job staying out of the box, only taking two penalties in the first period. Now, if only they could get their power play going.
Nick Ritchie makes his Coyotes debut tonight.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 26, 2022
Let’s do this. pic.twitter.com/LjwY2CkcHw
- Nick Schmaltz - 2 goals
- William Carrier - 1 goal
- Shayne Gostisbehere - 1 goal
The Arizona Coyotes will face off against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow at Gila River Arena for a 2:00 pm matinee game.