If two games is any sort of indication of what’s to come this season for the Arizona Coyotes, fans have plenty of reason to be excited for the 2015-16 campaign, as the ‘Yotes move to 2-0 on the young season following Saturday night’s 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
With goaltender Mike Smith proving to be a veritable brick wall between the pipes for the Coyotes, notching 27 saves, Arizona played with kind of guts and gusto that makes one consider whether the bleak preseason expectations were made in haste. After all, the ‘Yotes are off to a start worthy of applause, knocking off the Penguins and the Kings on back-to-back nights; two teams that figure to be in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at season’s end.
Coyotes center Tobias Rieder got Arizona on the board first in the second period, scoring on assists from Anthony Duclair and Martin Hanzel five minutes into the frame. The Penguins would answer almost immediately, as Phil Kessel ripped a shot that bested the reliable Smith only 17 seconds after Rieder lit the lamp.
The ‘Yotes would respond later in the period, however, as Jordan Martinook scored his first career goal two minutes later to give Arizona a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Below, we take a look at the Coyotes’ win, by the numbers.
Arizona is 2-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Oddly enough, that year, the Coyotes also defeated the Kings and Penguins to begin the season.
Rieder’s goal five minutes into the second period not only gave the Coyotes the 1-0 lead, but also marked the third goal the 22-year-old German has scored against the Penguins in three career games versus Pittsburgh. Rieder has netted 15 goals as an NHL player.
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Playing in only his ninth career NHL game, left winger Jordan Martinook picked up his first career goal in a goal-filled second period. With the game knotted up at 1-1 following a goal from Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel, Martinook’s timeliness in front of the net was rewarded when a scramble for the puck put the Brandon, Manitoba native in position to shovel a shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fluery that would ultimately prove to be the game-winner.
1 (Part II)
Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one point away from moving into a tie with Moe Mantha for ninth place on the franchise’s all-time points list for defensemen. The 24-year-old Swede has accumulated 155 points for his career.
Grizzled Coyotes veteran and captain Shane Doan turned 39 on Saturday. While he failed to make much of an impact playing in his ninth NHL game taking place on his birthday, Doan has previously celebrated his special day on the ice in style.
Since moving to Arizona in 1996, the Coyotes have posted a 12-5-1 record in home openers.