The Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators have played each other twice this season, and both games were insane. Last time it was a 13 goal game that saw Nick Schmaltz have a seven-point night; tonight’s had the Coyotes being outshot 43-15 and winning the game 5-3.
Ottawa came to play and started with a lot of energy, and it didn’t take long for them to get rewarded. The play began when Brady Tkachuk forced a turnover in the Coyotes’ zone and went hard to the net. Scott Wedgewood made the first save, but Josh Norris was alone to make it 1-0 Ottawa.
Ottawa continued to apply pressure, and the Coyotes were having trouble getting out of their own zone. They spent hardly any time in the offensive zone, and as the period was approaching the halfway point, they were being outshot 8-1.
But while the Senators were smothering, they weren’t perfect. Seven and half minutes into the opening frame, the Coyotes got a rare breakaway, with Phil Kessel and Lawson Crouse coming in on a 2-on-1. Kessel got the puck over to Crouse, who fired and tied the game on the Coyotes’ second shot of the night.
The goal briefly woke up the Desert Dogs, and they drew the game’s first penalty with Brady Tkachuk sent off for cross-checking.
And it didn’t take long for the Coyotes to get their second of the night. They won the faceoff and kept the zone, and 15 seconds into the power play, Lawson Crouse redirected a Shayne Gostisbehere shot from the point to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead on just their third shot of the game.
his second goal of the game and it's good pic.twitter.com/QT8yVo09GA— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 14, 2022
The Coyotes’ plan of attack became clear; if they wanted to score goals, they just needed to get shots on net. Unfortunately for them, the Senators went right back to controlling the game’s pace and forcing the Coyotes to play in their zone.
In a nice bit of symmetry, the Senators tied things up off the faceoff on their first power play of the game. Nick Ritchie was in the box for hooking, and Josh Norris found himself alone and in a perfect position to make it 2-2.
The Senators outshot the Coyotes 15-6 for the first twenty minutes, but the score was tied, and there was plenty of hockey to be played. And while the team will occasionally take off a period or briefly collapse, they have shown the ability to bounce back and take control of a game. But the second period started with Wedgewood making a massive save, and it just continued from there.
The Senators continued to outwork and outplay the Coyotes throughout the second period. They won every battle and forced the Coyotes to play almost entirely in their own zone. By the time they got the puck clear, they would be gassed and forced to dump in for a line change, so the next line could spend their shift defending.
Three-quarters of the way through the period, things looked to have gone from bad to worse. Nick Ritchie was in the box for roughing against Zach Sanford, and the Ottawa Senators were out of gas from spending most of their shift in the offensive zone. But then, Lawson Crouse forced a turnover, picked up the loose puck, and went coast-to-coast, firing the puck past Filip Gustavsson to make it 3-2 Coyotes.
THE SHORTY FOR THE HATTY pic.twitter.com/DroLSBw4Yl— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 15, 2022
It was Crouse’s first NHL hat-trick, and it came with a 5-on-5, power play, and short-handed goal. It’s an uncommon occurrence, and the last Coyote to record a hat-trick that way was Antoine Vermetteon on January 26, 2014, against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Coyotes killed the rest of the penalty, and the second period ended with the Yotes ahead 3-2 despite being outshot 32-9. It was going to be a tough rest of the game.
Despite being down a goal, the Ottawa Senators didn’t change much for the third period. They were doing all the right things, no need to make drastic changes, and it didn’t take long for them to get rewarded.
Midway through the second, the Coyotes failed to get the puck deep Artem Zub got the puck up to Brady Tkachuk. Wedgewood made the first save, but Connor Brown tapped in the rebound, and it was a tie game.
Then, in a rare moment of urgency, while they were still announcing the Brown goal, Nick Schmaltz picked up a pass from Clayton Keller on his skate, kicked it up to his stick, and shot the puck under Gustavsson’s outstretched glove to make it 4-3.
May the Schmaltz be with you. pic.twitter.com/j6n77Ga95K— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 15, 2022
It was a rare moment of offensive zone time for the Desert Dogs and a rare moment of urgency. The Coyotes weren’t doing a great job and getting chances, but they were making them count.
Arizona continued to get outworked and outplayed, and Wedgewood continued to stand on his head. In the next ten minutes of the game, the Coyotes would manage just one more shot on goal.
Gustavsson was on the bench with less than a minute left in regulation, and the Coyotes finally managed to clear the zone. Barrett Hayton fired the puck from center ice into the empty net for his fifth of the season to give the Coyotes a 5-3 win.
Without a doubt, the Coyotes’ best player of the game was Scott Wedgewood, followed closely by Lawson Crouse. Crouse’s hat trick was great to see and another sign of growth from what could be the core of the Coyotes’ rebuild, but Wedgewood had to face a lot of rubber.
- Scott Wedgewood - 40 saves on 43 shots
- Lawson Crouse - First NHL hat trick
- Josh Norris - 2 goals
The Coyotes won’t have much time to celebrate their stolen win. They play the Montréal Canadiens tomorrow at 4:00 pm Arizona time.