Arizona Coyotes hitting stride with 4th win in 5 games
GLENDALE, Ariz. — There was a lot to like about the Coyotes’ 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at Gila River Arena. There is a lot to like about the Coyotes’ recent play, too.
Christian Fischer knocked in a trickling puck after Christian Dvorak’s initial shot at 2:43 of overtime, and the Coyotes won for the fourth time in their past five games, a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. The win was the Coyotes’ first against a Western Conference opponent this season and their second on home ice (2-7-1) this season.
“I thought a lot of guys had good games,” said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who gave up trying to name them all when he realized how widespread the effort was. “Everybody contributed. We didn’t have many passengers tonight.”
The more notable performances came from the power play, which generated chances and momentum; Fischer, who had a goal and an assist for his second career multi-point game; backup goalie Scott Wedgewood, who made 23 saves in his first start at Gila River Arena; forward Brendan Perlini, who scored for the third straight game; and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was the offensive engine the franchise dreams of him being.
“I’ve been feeling good lately,” said Ekman-Larsson, who opened the scoring with a quick release shot from the left point through traffic on a power play at 10:17 of the first period to extend his points streak to four games (two goals, three assists). “It’s easy to say when you’re scoring goals and scoring points that you’re playing good, but at the same time, there have been games where I haven’t scored or haven’t had any points that I still feel better. I know I am finding my game.”
Friday’s win was a critical performance in two respects. Tocchet wanted to see the team establish some sort of identity on home ice after a recent 3-1 road trip through Canada. The players also wanted to sustain some of the momentum gained on that trip, which they worried had been lost in a loss to San Jose on Wednesday.
“Two days ago’s loss was obviously tough to swallow,” Fischer said. “Today I thought was great. The way we played is the way we want to play moving forward.
“We have everyone contributing — young guys, veterans, goalies. It’s awesome to see. We’re moving in the right direction and we’re having fun.”
Wedgewood had a strong game replacing injured starter Antti Raanta. He made the key saves in key moments that Tocchet cited as critical to the psyche of a team. Just after Ekman-Larsson’s goal, Jussi Jokinen got behind the Coyotes defense but Wedgewood stopped him with his left pad.
With the scored tied 1-1, he stopped Tyler Toffoli by moving right to left and getting a toe on Toffoli’s wrist shot.
“He’s stopping the stuff that he should stop and he’s getting timely saves,” Tocchet said. “That’s a great recipe for any goalie and for a team to win. It just gives a team confidence.”
The Coyotes won’t have Raanta back for Saturday’s game against the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Tocchet has not decided if he will go back to Wedgewood or call on Marek Langhamer, but Wedgewood sounded ready for the challenge.
“It’s not even a full day until we play again,” he said, “but you try and manage it the best you can and if they do look to me, I’ll be ready.”