Arizona Coyotes still winless despite big night for Keller, Stepan

Oct 19, 2017, 10:55 PM
Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal against the Dallas Stars with left wi...
Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal against the Dallas Stars with left wing Max Domi (16) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Stars won 5-4. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes scored the game’s first goal on Thursday night and went on to lose, repeating that pattern for the fifth time in seven games and remaining winless to start the season.

The Coyotes (0-6-1) fell to the Stars, 5-4.

Yet again, the Coyotes showed promise when they created scoring chances and put pressure on Dallas, but a massive performance from rookie Clayton Keller and a pair of goals from offseason acquisition Derek Stepan weren’t enough to get past a Stars team that has now beaten the ‘Yotes for the second time in three days.

“Honestly, I feel so confident in this group that they’ve got good things to come,” Stepan said. “We’ve been working so hard and they haven’t taken any steps backwards, which says a lot. Like I said, there’s good things that are coming with this group.

“It kind of feels like it’s creeping in a little bit, it’s created a little bit of a monster. I want nothing more than for this group to find a way to win on Saturday.”

Keller had two goals, an assist, rang a shot off the crossbar in the second period and at one point set up a play that was nearly a Stepan goal, had it not been for a highlight-reel poke check save by Stars goalie Ben Bishop.

Bishop stood tall in net — literally and figuratively — as the 6-foot-7 former Vezina Trophy finalist made clutch stops for the Stars and helped Dallas climb to 4-3-0 on the year.

The scoring began with a goal by Derek Stepan at 5:50 in the first period, his first with the Coyotes since coming over in an offseason trade. That made it 1-0 Arizona.

The Stars tied things back up soon after. Dallas won a faceoff in the the Coyotes’ zone and Jamie Benn was left all alone in front. He received a pass, deked around Arizona goalie Adin Hill and tied the game 1-1 at 6:23.

At 7:04, Luke Schenn scored an unfortunate own-goal when he had the puck on his stick in front of a wide-open Coyotes net. Attempting to steer it wide, he instead pushed it in net. The goal was credited to Stars forward Tyler Pitlick.

Taking a deficit to the locker room at first intermission, Arizona came out and quickly tied the game back up after Max Domi took a shot from near the blue line and created a rebound off Bishop. The puck kicked back out to Stepan, who was wide open and scored a game-tying goal at 2:47.

That was the only goal of the second period for either team.

The third period saw five total goals, including a pair from Stars center Tyler Seguin and a pair from Keller. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns also tallied his first of the season.

Though Keller’s second goal of the period made it 5-4 with less than 30 seconds to play, a one-goal deficit for Arizona was where the score would remain.


— Without question, the greatest silver lining on Thursday was the performance by one of Arizona’s rookies.

Keller looked sharp and continues to show the promise that once made him the No. 7 overall pick in 2016; In addition to his two goals in the third period and his assist on Stepan’s first goal, Keller rang one off the post and also created a big scoring chance late in the second period that Bishop quashed.

–Stepan’s goals were his first two with the Coyotes. Those, plus an assist, brought his scoring line to 2-4-6 in his last five games. He has never scored fewer than 45 points in a season, and he’s playing this year as a No. 1 center between Keller and Domi.

–The Coyotes entered the game with the NHL’s third-worst faceoff percentage at 44.3 percent, but on Thursday, they were 50 percent in faceoffs.


–Thursday marked the fifth time that the Coyotes scored first in their seven games this season. In all five instances, they’ve relinquished their lead.

–The Coyotes allowed five goals, doing so for the fourth time this year.


“Clayton is, what is he, a 19, 20-year-old?” Tocchet said. “He’s going against — Jamie Benn’s a hell of a player — this is a learning process and Clayton delivered. He did a nice job.”


— Hill was making his second NHL appearance on Thursday after he debuted in Dallas on Tuesday. He stopped 25 of 30 shots faced.

— Former Coyotes center Marin Hanzal returned to Arizona for the second time since he was traded last season. His first time back was last year’s season finale, when the Coyotes hosted the Stars.

Hanzal was drafted by Arizona in the first round of the 2005 draft and played 10 seasons in the desert. He had 30-plus point seasons seven times.

Conversely, Coyotes defensemen Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski were facing their former team.


Before they begin an East Coast road trip in which they play five games in eight days, Arizona hosts the Chicago Blackhawks (4-2-2) on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

Puck drop for that game is slated for 6 p.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM.

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Arizona Coyotes still winless despite big night for Keller, Stepan