Arizona Coyotes break short winning streak with loss to Sharks
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes’ first game back following a Canadian road trip looked to be a big one: It came as the team was riding a three-game win streak, and it was against a division opponent.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, Arizona failed to get their fourth in a row as they fell to the Sharks, 3-1.
Arizona fell Wednesday to a record of 0-5 on the season in home games that are the first after a road trip. Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said earlier in the day that phenomenon is one that could warrant a change in approach, but that the team has been good in the first period.
This time, Arizona’s first period consisted of an unsuccessful 5-on-3 power play opportunity and the loss of their starting goaltender, Antti Raanta, to injury.
“We had the power plays. We’d like to capitalize on those,” Tocchet said. “I think we’re 0-for-5 on 5-on-3s. We need to make some plays. Somebody’s got to score there.”
Tocchet added that he had “no idea” of Raanta’s status, who exited in the first period with an upper-body injury. He did not return, and was replaced by backup Scott Wedgewood.
Arizona gave up a goal almost immediately after Wedgewood entered the game. The Sharks carried that 1-0 lead into first intermission.
“In an 82-game schedule, you’re going to have a lot of nights where everyone doesn’t have their A-stuff and you have to find a way to manage the game,” Derek Stepan said. “For the most part, I thought we did a good job managing. … Obviously it’s something you have to learn from, we have to not chase the game.”
The Coyotes’ deficit would later double, when San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi found Logan Couture, who deked around Wedgewood to open up the net. The Sharks led 2-0.
In the third, Arizona cut that deficit in half when a shot from Stepan landed in front of Brendan Perlini, who tapped in the goal for his sixth of the season with 7:37 to play.
But an empty-netter from Joel Ward with 48 seconds left would seal Arizona’s fate, a team that now falls to 5-16-3 on the year.
The first game back from a road trip served as the end of Arizona’s brief winning streak.
“It’s the NHL, you’ve got to be ready every game,” Perlini said. “There’s no excuse for that. We know the schedule coming in and, like I said, no real excuse for that.”
–Tocchet told reporters before the game that defenseman Jakob Chychrun — who suffered a knee injury this offseason and recently began skating with the team again — is perhaps “ahead of schedule” and has worked hard to get back to full health.
–Only three of the Coyotes’ first 23 games this season had come against division rivals. Wednesday’s game marked Arizona’s first game against a Pacific Division team in the month of November.
Wednesday night’s game was the first of three games in four days for the Coyotes on this homestand, with their lone day off being Thanksgiving. Arizona will play a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the LA Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, respectively.
The Coyotes have yet to face the Kings this year while they’ve played the Golden Knights twice — in the second and third games of the season — losing both contests.