Arizona Coyotes fall to Philadelphia Flyers in wild shootout
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Philadelphia Flyers putting in their backup goaltender in the middle of a shootout against the Arizona Coyotes was only part of what made that very shootout a wild one.
After Clayton Keller’s stick caught Brian Elliott’s neck in Arizona’s second shootout attempt, Michal Neuvirth was called upon in relief. Brendan Perlini was the next shooter for Arizona.
The puck never touched Neuvirth.
“It’s unfortunate that [Perlini] fanned on that shot,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “When a goalie comes in after a really long time, you want to make that really good shot on. It’s tough when a goalie hasn’t seen a puck for four or five hours, to pick up a puck.”
As for what led to the shootout that saw the Elliott injury and more, the Coyotes’ 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Saturday came with 65 minutes of back-and-forth hockey.
Arizona defenseman Jason Demers received a pass from Derek Stepan in the first period, which he threw on Elliott and in for the goal. It was the first tally of the game, making it 1-0 Arizona at the 3:53 mark.
Later in the period, Philadelphia scored two goals less than two minutes apart to take the lead before the first intermission. The first was on a power play, a top-shelf one-timer from Claude Giroux that went past Antti Raanta to tie it at 10:19.
CLAUDE GIROUX COULD NOT SHOOT THIS PUCK IN A BETTER SPOT!
TIE GAME! pic.twitter.com/BjNkjMn84s
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 11, 2018
The next goal was from Michael Raffl, who fired one over Raanta’s glove to make it 2-1 at 11:41.
In the middle frame, Arizona briefly tied up the game again, this time on a goal by Alex Goligoski at 0:24. But at 2:12, Wayne Simmonds found the back of net to give the lead right back to the Flyers on the power play, 3-2.
But in the third, former Flyer Zac Rinaldo took a pass from Max Domi and shot it past Elliott to tie things at 3-3 at 1:59.
The Coyotes had the puck in the offensive zone for the majority of overtime, but to no avail.
The odd shootout ensued.
Even before Elliott left the game, another former-Flyer-turned-Coyote scored against his former teammate — this time it was Nick Cousins, who led off for Arizona and scored their only shootout goal.
A few innings later, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was up for Arizona; likely not among the more predictable names to appear in the shootout for the Coyotes.
“He has this one move, he said he guaranteed he’d score,” Tocchet said, adding that Hjalmarsson made that guarantee on the bench. “Joe Namath.
“It’s just a roll of the dice. We practice it. You look for who scores. We practiced it the last couple times and there hasn’t been a lot of guys scoring. So it’s just basically, you’re picking a guy out of a hat.”
The Flyers (27-19-9) beat the Coyotes (13-32-10) in the shootout on goals from Jakob Voracek and Nolan Patrick.
The Coyotes were out-shot 43-27. Raanta made 40 saves in the loss.
“Tired of losing,” Raanta said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s OT or shootout or a 60-minute loss. It kind of grinds you, especially, we battled hard in the third period to even get to the OT. We had the puck probably 90 percent of the time in OT.”
Despite the loss, Tocchet praised his team’s effort.
“I thought the guys played hard,” he said. “A tough road trip to go to Winnipeg and Minnesota, come home. The Flyers, a team that’s scratching and clawing to get in the playoffs, they’ve got high-level players, I thought we did a nice job tonight.”
–Defenseman Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch against his former team. Kevin Connauton, who had three goals and an assist in his last four games coming into the game, took Schenn’s place.
–Right wing Christian Fischer (lower-body) played in Saturday’s contest.
The Coyotes continue this homestand on Monday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time this season, but do so for the first time since trading Anthony Duclair for Richard Panik. The following night, they’ll play in San Jose.
From there, the Coyotes will play seven consecutive home games before leaving town again.