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Raanta posts second shutout in past three games, Coyotes beat Ducks

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, left, reaches out to catch the puck tossed to him by center Brad Richardson (15) as he earned a shutout against the Anaheim Ducks as time expired in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Even during the Coyotes’ recent four-game winning streak, coach Rick Tocchet cautioned that the team still had a lot of work to do. Tocchet’s assessment was more broad-based, but a look at the Coyotes’ schedule left a sobering reminder that Arizona’s four-game winning streak came against three non-playoff teams (Chicago, Montreal, Edmonton) and one bubble team fighting to make the postseason (San Jose).

The past two games came against what Tocchet called “scratching-and-clawing type of teams.” The Coyotes didn’t show well against the Calgary Flames on Thursday after a five-day break, but they rebounded on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.

Antti Raanta made 26 saves for his second shutout in his past three games, and the Coyotes improved to 5-1-0 in their past six games with a 2-0 win against Anaheim at Gila River Arena.

“That’s a hell of a hockey team,” Tocchet said of the Ducks, who had won four straight, the last two by shutout. “I thought we had some good, Grade-A chances and I thought we did a nice job. Our forecheck was good and our neutral zone and that’s the stuff that we’ve got to continue to be good at.”

Raanta made 40 saves in a 1-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 17. He has stopped 266 of 284 shots in nine February games (eight starts) for a .937 save percentage and a 6-3 record.

“They didn’t have that many chances in the third period,” said Raanta, who has 10 career shutouts. “If you compare it with last Saturday’s game when we were leading 1-0, it was a little bit more wide-open. Guys were doing a great job in the neutral zone, taking their speedy guys away.”

Tocchet had to press forward Freddie Hamilton into action when Richard Panik missed the game with a lower-body injury. It was Hamilton’s first game since the Coyotes claimed him off waivers on Jan. 4 from Calgary. He had missed 19 games with Arizona and hadn’t played since Dec. 22 against Montreal.

“Fun,” said Hamilton whose parents attended the game. “It’s been a while.”

The Coyotes scored first for the seventh straight game (they have won five of those). Jason Demers did the deed at 5:58 of the first period on an unusually soft goal against Coyotes killer Ryan Miller, who entered the game with an 11-3 career record against the Coyotes, a 1.64 goals against average and a .945 save percentage, his best against any opponent he has faced more than once.

Demers’s shot from the right boards banked off Miller’s blocker and into the upper corner of net.

“I’m all highlight, I’m all ESPN,” Demers quipped. “He looked like he fell down a bit and I luckily got a little tip so I’ll take that all day.”

Max Domi scored into an empty net with 1:01 left in the third period to make it 2-0.

“It’s always good to see a bounce back,” Demers said. “A veteran team does that. Winning teams do that. It’s something that is good for the young kids to learn. I thought the leaders did a good job of getting everybody ready. We had a good practice [Friday]. We knew we had to pick up our game.”

Favorable 20-game stretch

 The Coyotes began a run of 20 games on Feb. 12 against the Chicago Blackhawks that offered the opportunity for greater success. Only seven of those games are against teams currently in a playoff position. Here’s a look at those teams with their records and conference standing before Saturday’s games.

 Team        Record      Standing   Playoff position

Chicago     27-27-8     12th WCF   No

San Jose    33-21-8     5th WCF     2nd Pacific

Montreal    23-29-8     15th ECF    No

Edmonton  25-31-4     13th WCF   No

Calgary      32-22-9     8th WCF     2nd WCF Wild Card

Anaheim    31-20-11    7th WCF     3rd Pacific

Vancouver  23-31-7     14th WCF   No

Minnesota  34-20-7     4th WCF     3rd Central

Ottawa      21-20-10    15th ECF    No

Edmonton   25-31-4     13th WCF   No

Vancouver 23-31-7     14th WCF   No

Colorado    32-24-5     11th WCF   No

Vancouver  23-31-7     14th WCF   No

L.A.           33-23-5     10th WCF   No

Nashville    37-14-9     2nd WCF    1st Central

Minnesota   34-20-7     4th WCF     3rd Central

Calgary      32-22-9     8th WCF     2nd WCF Wild Card

Buffalo       18-32-11    16th ECF    No

Carolina     27-24-10    10th ECF    No

Florida       27-25-6     11th ECF    No

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