Antti Raanta, OT goal lift Arizona Coyotes to fifth straight win
GLENDALE, Ariz. — For four straight games, the Arizona Coyotes (7-5-0) were in the driver’s seat.
On Friday, it was more like the Coyotes were hanging onto the tailgate of a speeding pickup truck. But either way, they got to their destination, winning their fifth straight game capped by a Michael Grabner overtime winner, 4-3, over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“They’re not all Oscar winners,” Brad Richardson said. “It was very ugly. But we pulled it off, so it’s a good thing. We definitely kind of held on for dear life, got to overtime and then won. So we’ll take it.”
Arizona was outshot 51-25, marking both the highest number of shots allowed this season and the fewest number of shots taken this year for the Coyotes. This, despite coming out of the gates hot with three goals in the span of 3:45 in the first period to make it 3-0.
The Coyotes got first-period goals from Richardson (shorthanded), Brendan Perlini (on the power play) and Nick Cousins (even strength), but gave up a goal to former Coyote Jordan Martinook in the second period to take a 3-1 lead into intermission. The Hurricanes scored at 13:42 and 14:22 in the third to tie it up with goals from Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal, and that forced OT.
Grabner scored on a feed from Clayton Keller at 1:17 in the extra frame, and the Coyotes moved to 5-0 this season when leading after two periods.
“We didn’t crumble, which is nice,” Tocchet said. “Last year … we probably would’ve crumbled. Especially the first half of the year.”
“I think you could tell on the bench that we weren’t really panicking,” Grabner said. “That was nice to see and obviously the two points is the biggest part that we got here.”
Raanta gave up three goals, but still made 48 saves. He was a big part of the Coyotes’ success on Friday, as he and backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper have each been all season. Raanta’s save percentage improved to .928 in the win.
“That’s the only reason we won the game,” Richardson said. “[Raanta] made a ton of great saves, some backdoor plays we could’ve lost that game late there. But he played amazing, so that’s the reason we won.”
Carolina entered the game with the highest shots per game average in the NHL and the lowest shots-against per game rate in the NHL. The Hurricanes continued that theme against Arizona, recording 41 shots on goal in the second and third periods alone.
Credit a save on one of those Carolina shots to Ilya Lyubushkin, who jumped in front of a puck to save a goal while Raanta was out of his net.
“It’s just great to be a goalie on this team because everybody’s putting their bodies on the line and they’re blocking shots,” Raanta said. “It doesn’t matter what situation it is, everybody’s always dialed in. We didn’t have the perfect game today but we battled hard and got two points, and that’s pretty much the only thing that matters.”
Aside from Raanta’s eventful evening and Grabner’s winner in OT, Richardson scored the Coyotes’ seventh shorthanded goal of the season, which leads the NHL. That was Richardson’s third shorthanded goal of the season, which also leads the NHL.
Additionally, the Coyotes held Carolina to 0-for-6 on the power play, improving Arizona’s PK percentage to 92.1 percent, just 1.2 percent behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL leader.
It was all part of getting a big win at home — however they would get one — to improve to a perfect 4-0 so far on a five-game homestand.
“You look at great teams, they’re going to win some games that they shouldn’t,” Tocchet said. “It’s nice for us to win those type of games. Second and third [periods], obviously Carolina was the better team. But we grinded it out, so it’s nice.
“I thought the first four or five games of the year, I thought we should’ve won some games that we deserved. So I think they all even out.”