ARIZONA COYOTES

‘Yotes Notes: Coyotes return home riding 3-game winning streak

Nov 20, 2017, 9:44 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2017, 11:35 am

Anthony Duclair photo-bombed Max Domi’s postgame interview with Todd Walsh on FOX Sports Arizona.

Antti Raanta touted the Coyotes’ newest knowledge drop, “how to score empty-netters,” and Oliver Ekman-Larsson boarded a flight home with his teammates despite those mind-numbing trade rumors.

The Coyotes brought something else home with them from Toronto on Tuesday morning: a three-game winning streak courtesy of a 4-1 win against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre that included a late scare and a successful coach’s challenge to overturn Auston Matthews’ game-tying goal due to goaltender interference on Zach Hyman.

Brendan Perlini and Ekman-Larsson scored power-play goals, and Domi and Tobias Rieder added empty-net goals for Arizona.

For the first time this season, Arizona (5-15-3) has legitimate, positive momentum.

“Obviously we flushed the first 20 games down the drain but I just think the last seven, eight, nine games we’re playing the right way for longer stretches,” coach Rick Tocchet told Walsh after the game. “Guys are staying into the moment. We’re not going off the grid. It was just a good team win.”

KELLER BREAKS OUT

Media outlets across Canada and the U.S. were touting Clayton Keller as the runaway favorite for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Meanwhile, Keller was quietly slumping, with just one secondary assist in his last six games heading into Monday’s game in Toronto.

Part of that slump may have been due to Tocchet’s decision to break up Keller and Derek Stepan (and Max Domi earlier), but there was a reason behind that decision.

“I just felt they had gone through a drought and I didn’t like that they weren’t getting many chances,” Tocchet said.

Keller quelled concerns that he was hitting an early rookie wall with two assists in Monday’s win. With those points, he retook the rookie points lead over the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal with 20. Barzal has 19. Keller also leads all rookies in goals with 11.

Tocchet has admitted multiple times this season that he may be playing Keller too much. Keller is averaging 19:23 of ice time, the highest total among rookie forwards. But after logging more than 19 minutes of ice time in 13 of his first 16 games, Keller has topped 19 just once in his last seven.

“I have to be careful,” Tocchet said. “He’s a 19-year-old kid getting the best D-men every night, but he was producing so how can I not get him on the ice? I don’t know if I can keep playing him 20, 21 minutes a night and expect him to last 82 games.”

While Tocchet will continue to monitor that concern, he said he has not seen any legitimate signs of Keller hitting a fatigue wall.

“The only concern I see is when we’re losing, I don’t want him to get frustrated later in the game and start to cheat or throw pucks away because he’s trying too hard,” Tocchet said. “I want him to keep playing right, and he hasn’t done it at an alarming rate so I’m not concerned.”

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NO. 11

Brendan Perlini switched numbers earlier this season, going from No. 29 to No. 11, a number his dad wore in the British Hockey League.

“They usually give (it) to the best player over there, like a lot of soccer teams do it,” said Perlini, who was born in Guildford, England. “It’s a goal scorer’s number and he was the top goal scorer.

“He always wore 9, 19 or 29, but they gave him 11 and he wore it his whole career over there and had it retired. Me and my brother always wore it and we always looked at it like it was the goal scorer’s number.”

Fred Perlini and his wife, Vicki, were on hand for Monday’s game. Fred played seven games for the Maple Leafs in the 1981-82 season, and one game in the 1983-84 season.

They got to see Perlini score his fifth goal of the season on a first-period power play.

LOOSE PUCKS

— Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the lineup Monday after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. Despite leaving the game briefly after crashing face first into the boards, he returned and logged 19:41 of ice time.

— Defenseman Jakob Chychrun joined the team in Toronto and practiced with the Coyotes. There is still no timeline on his return, but he is clearly close to playing, perhaps as soon as the end of this month.


Sharks at Coyotes
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Coyotes — 5-15-3. Sharks — 10-8-1.
Injury report: Coyotes — D Jakob Chychrun (knee) is out indefinitely. Sharks — D Paul Martin (ankle) and F Barclay Goodrow (upper body) are on injured reserve. F Melker Karlsson (upper body) is day-to-day.

Sharks scouting report: F Logan Couture leads the team with 10 goals and 16 points. … San Jose is 1 for 20 on the power play over the last seven games. … The Sharks have the NHL’s second-best penalty killing unit at 89.2 percent.

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