It wasn’t going to be easy. The Coyotes were facing off against a tough Colorado Avalanche team, who came in riding a four-game point streak. But, despite being massive underdogs, the Coyotes dug deep and walked away with a 2-1 regulation win.
It was another slow start for the Coyotes, a not-great recent trend. Although Arizona did a good enough job keeping the Avalanche from running away with the game, they couldn’t get much offensive zone time and were mostly one and done.
Karel Vejmelka did an excellent job keeping the Desert Dogs in the game, with some big from the start. He continued to make saves and the first period ended with the Avalanche outshooting the Coyotes 12-8, and the score tied 0-0. Not the worst start, but the Coyotes needed to make some adjustments.
Things started to pick up in the second period. There were no goals and no penalties in the first period, and it didn’t take long for that to change.
Devon Toews started the goal-scoring early, firing a shot through traffic past Vejmelka just under six minutes into the period. After that, the Avalanche kept up the pressure, and a few minutes later, they got their first power play with Shayne Gostisbehere heading to the box for cross-checking.
Arizona killed the penalty, but the Avalanche kept up the pressure. The Coyotes were having trouble getting any zone time, but luckily Vejmelka continued to stand tall and kept them in the game.
Things started to turn around when the Coyotes got their first power play of the game. Nazem Kadri was in the box for tripping, and though the Coyotes didn’t score with the man advantage, they got a lot of good offensive zone time.
The penalty expired, but the Coyotes finally had some momentum. And upon regaining the zone, Arizona got set up and began working the puck around. Loui Eriksson found himself alone on the side of the net, and upon receiving a pass from Antoine Roussel, he roofed his shot past Pavel Francouz, tying the game at one.
The Coyotes had tied things up late in the second, but they started the third period in the worst possible way. Seven seconds into the final frame, Antoine Roussel was called for interference, and the Coyotes were down a man.
The Coyotes were able to kill the penalty and finally started to put together a few good shifts. The Coyotes were building some momentum again, and again it paid off.
The Coyotes came into the offensive zone with speed, and Clayton Keller passed the puck through an Avalanche player’s legs up to Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz went hard to the net, drew Francouz out, and backhanded it home.
ordered this goal extra saucy. pic.twitter.com/Bb6xt0gn5B— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 4, 2022
With a one-goal lead, the Coyotes mostly stuck to damage control. Arizona kept the Avalanche from doing too much damage, and the period continued to tick away.
Vejmelka continued to make big saves, and the Coyotes kept their narrow lead as the period drew to an end. However, Colorado eventually pulled their goalie, and the Coyotes couldn’t do much more than ice the puck and keep shots to the outside.
Tensions had started to pick up as regulation expired, and the referees put the whistles away, and things seemed to boil over in the final seconds.
After a faceoff, Dysin Mayo caught Nathan MacKinnon up high with his stick, and MacKinnon immediately started bleeding. MacKinnon went after Mayo while Jakob Chychrun and Gabriel Landeskog squared off, and the game ended with penalties all around.
MacKinnon was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct call, and the faceoff was moved outside the Coyotes’ zone. Arizona won the faceoff, and the final seconds ticked away, with the Coyotes walking away the 2-1 victor.
Tonight’s win was like the Coyotes’ last win over the Colorado Avalanche. They didn’t do much in the first, scored a goal in the second, and there was a lot of excitement in the final minute of regulation.
- Nick Schmaltz - Game-winning goal
- Karel Vejmelka - 42 saves on 43 shots
- Loui Eriksson - Goal
- Christian Fischer had a few good looks and played some of his best hockey. He didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he was rewarded with plenty of quality minutes late in the game.
- Matias Maccelli played 14:45 in his NHL debut on a line with Phil Kessel and Alex Galchenyuk, and he did not look out of place. He had a few stand-out moments, and it will be interesting to see what he can do if he gets a long look.
The Arizona Coyotes will host the Ottawa Senators Saturday at 2:00 pm before heading on the road for five games.