Coyotes bulldoze Rangers in shutout; Tocchet gets 100th win
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes (18-21-3) ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday by shutting out Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers and winning 5-0, marking the 100th win of head coach Rick Tocchet’s career.
Arizona got its first win since Dec. 29 by beating Lundqvist, who made 27 saves on 32 shots and was removed in the second period. Darcy Kuemper started for the Coyotes and made 23 saves in the shutout as Arizona outshot New York, 40-23.
First-period goals from Conor Garland (on the power play) and Mario Kempe and second-period goals from Garland, Clayton Keller and Alex Galchenyuk forced the end of Lundqvist’s day, who was pulled for backup Alex Georgiev. Georgiev stopped all eight shots he faced.
Garland was the beneficiary of two scoring changes, the first when Nick Cousins scored in the second period but the goal was later credited to Garland, who was in front of the net as the shot went by and evidently was found to have touched him last. The second was when the scorers changed Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s first-period power play goal, which made it 1-0, and ruled that that, too, was Garland’s.
“I’ll be honest with you — I didn’t know much of [Garland] last year when I got here, in camp, he got sent down right away,” Tocchet said. “But this year, before he got hurt, he had a good camp and was one of our better forwards. I mean he was pushing some guys. Would he have made the team? I don’t know.
“If you look at his goals, too, I don’t care if they go off his pants or not. He was in front of the net. It doesn’t matter how they go in. Right now, it doesn’t matter.”
In 15 NHL games this season, Garland has five goals with two assists in his first year of NHL experience.
“I think I feel more comfortable every game,” Garland said. “You get to see film after the games, talk to the coaches and pick up new things. I get to work after practice a lot with [assistant coach John MacLean] and go over things. It is feeling a lot more comfortable and slowing down, so it feels good.”
Arizona’s power play went 1-for-3 on Sunday after going 0-for-5 on Friday against the Devils. The power play has been an issue for the Coyotes this year, who rank 22nd in the NHL in power play percentage.
“I thought we [stuck] to our structure, we moved the puck pretty well,” Galchenyuk said of the power play. “We spoke about, yesterday and today, that when you have a chance, you shoot it. [Oliver Ekman-Larsson] set the tone from the start with his shot, and I think we didn’t waste that much time there and you kind of start going from there.”
Now 100 wins later, Tocchet is in his fourth season as an NHL head coach, his second with the Coyotes. Before taking his place behind the bench in Arizona to replace Dave Tippett, he was in charge for almost two full seasons in Tampa Bay from 2008 to 2010. His career record improved Sunday to 100-131-41.
“It took a long time,” he joked of his 100th win.
“The times I’ve been a head coach, a lot has been thrown my way, so I’ve learned a lot with what’s gone on, with where I’ve been. So you learn a lot, even as an assistant coach, you learn a lot of different things, what’s thrown your way. For the short time, a lot’s been thrown my way. So I think I’m getting some scar tissue there. So, it’s good.”
The win puts Arizona two points behind Edmonton for fifth place in the Western Conference Wild Card standings, and six points behind a second wild card playoff spot (currently occupied by Anaheim).
The Coyotes will now have just two more home games before the All-Star break, which means that after Jan. 18, the team’s next home game will not be until Feb. 7.
The Rangers, who are now 17-17-7 on the season, were outshot mightily (especially early) and didn’t play well on Sunday, despite not having played since Friday. They have now been outscored 18-3 in their three games this month of January, and Lundqvist has been pulled twice in that span.
“We just need to get off to better starts,” Rangers head coach David Quinn said. “We lose three games like that, there’s a whole heap of problems right now and we’ve got to address them.
“We had no legs today. We were clearly the slower team. They had way more jump than we did. And it wasn’t just a certain group of guys, it was every man. We just didn’t have any energy. You can’t play with no energy in this league.”