On Thursday, the Arizona Coyotes pulled out a surprise upset against one of the top teams in the NHL, beating the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in regulation. Fortunately, today’s opponent, the Ottawa Senators, is not nearly as talented, but the Coyotes can not afford to take any chances.
Thursday’s win was a bit of a surprise because the Coyotes did many of the things that so often get them in trouble. Arizona had another slow start, they were outshot 43-29, they failed to generate on their power play, and they took multiple penalties. In what was probably a perfect encapsulation of the Coyotes this season, they took a penalty seven seconds into the crucial third period after tying the game late in the second.
But somehow, the Coyotes still managed to walk away with a win. Karel Vejmelka definitely deserves a lot of credit, making 42 saves on 43 shots to keep the Avalanche at one. It does look like Scott Wedgewood will be back in net today, but both netminders have been good this season.
The Coyotes found success with a balanced offense, a goal from the bottom-six from Loui Eriksson, and the top-six from Nick Schmaltz. A balanced offense is always good, and the Coyotes could use more goals from the roster.
This afternoon will be the first of two times the Coyotes play the Ottawa Senators this month, with the next game on the road on the 14th.
Unlike the Avalanche, the Ottawa Senators are not one of the best teams in the league. They are currently second to last in the Atlantic division ahead of only the Montréal Canadiens.
And unlike the Avalanche, who came into Thursday’s game riding a four-game win streak, the Senators have dropped their last three and are 3-6-1 in their previous ten. Like the Coyotes, the Senators also last played Thursday, but they dropped that game 3-0 to the Florida Panthers.
But that doesn’t mean the Coyotes should take the Senators lightly. The Senators are not a good team, but they are still probably the better team today in almost every area.
There is one area where the Senators are leaps and bounds better than the Coyotes, though; they allow far fewer goals.
Despite having a -32 goal differential, the Senators are 20th in goals allowed. They have allowed 168 goals this season, the same amount as the Minnesota Wild and only two more than the Winnipeg Jets.
Ottawa’s penalty kill isn’t much to sneeze at either. They are currently ranked 12th in the NHL and kill 81.1% of penalties. Unfortunately, the Coyotes’ power play has had troubles all season, and they probably aren’t going to be resolved before this afternoon’s game.
The Senators have benefited from some good goaltending this season, and 29-year-old Anton Forsberg has been in net for the most games. This is his second season with the Senators, the first time he is playing for a region/city that doesn’t start with the letter “C,” and he has a 2.80 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage through 25 games. Matt Murray is also having a bit of a bounce-back, and in 19 games, he has a 2.78 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller’s point streak may have ended against the Winnipeg Jets, but he had a primary assist on Nick Schmaltz’s goal on Thursday, so be prepared for another point streak.
Ottawa: Brady Tkachuk - Tkachuk had a goal the last time the Senators won and had an assist on Tuesday when the Senators faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He currently leads the Senators with 17 goals in 15 games.
Arizona: Liam O’Brien (lower body), Andrew Ladd (lower body), Johan Larsson (hernia), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Ottawa: Chris Tierney (upper body), Drake Batherson (ankle), Shane Pinto (shoulder)
Todaý’sgame is another early one with a 2:00 pm Arizona start time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 620 AM.