Clayton Keller’s first four-point game sparks Coyotes to third straight win

Feb 15, 2018, 10:55 PM
Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens with d...

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens with defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), right wing Tobias Rieder (8) and right wing Christian Fischer (36) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes will not enjoy the rewards of a postseason berth, so they’re treating the final 25 games of the regular season as their playoffs, starting with a season-long seven-game homestand.

The playoffs are off to a good start.

Clayton Keller had a goal and three assists for the first four-point game of his NHL career, Brendan Perlini scored two goals in 19 seconds and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had three assists as the Coyotes won their third straight game, 5-2 over the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on Thursday.

Antti Raanta made 34 saves for Arizona, which is 4-0-1 in its past five games and 7-5-5 in 2018.

“On any given night, we’re getting production from certain guys, different lines, which is huge,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “And we’re getting goaltending. You have to have good goaltending to win in this league.”

The team’s seven-game homestand affords a major opportunity to string some wins and points together to build success and momentum for next season. Beginning with Montreal, just two of the next 12 opponents (Calgary and Minnesota) are currently in a playoff spot and none are among the top 10 teams in the NHL standings.

“We have to build something here,” Ekman-Larsson said. “We don’t know how many guys are going to be here next year, or even in two weeks after the trade deadline. We need to realize that if we play the right way we win hockey games.”

Keller gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 13:56 of the first period on a power play. Ekman-Larsson slipped him a pass to Keller at the left point and Keller beat goalie Carey Price from the top of the left face-off circle or his team-leading 17th goal of the season, and his third goal in his past five games.

On the play, Ekman-Larsson lost his stick so he skated to the bench to get a new one. It was Brad Richardson’s, which is about eight inches shorter, but Ekman-Larsson still made the key pass.

“My back is a little bit sore,” he quipped.

Perlini scored 57 seconds into the second period when Keller found him in the slot with a pass from below the goal line. Ekman-Larsson sprung Perlini on a breakaway on the same shift and he beat Price for a 3-0 lead at 1:16.

“I have scored on the same shift before but I don’t know that I have ever scored within 19 seconds,” Perlini said.

Montreal cut the lead to 3-2 on goals from Brendan Gallagher and Daniel Carr early in the third period, leading Raanta to skate to the bench and chew out his teammates.

“I got a little bit hot,” said Raanta, who made a spectacular glove save on Nikita Scherbak at 5:02 of the first period. “They pretty much laughed at it.”

The coaching staff wasn’t laughing, Tocchet said.

“I loved that,” Tocchet said.

The tongue lashing worked.

Tobias Rieder scored on a power play off a pass from Keller for a 4-2 lead at 10:46 of the third. Josh Archibald scored on a high backhand at 16:01 to put the game away at 5-2.

Arizona Coyotes

Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars flips a puck up and over Scott Wedgewood #31 for a goal against ...
Associated Press

Coyotes drop 3rd straight by falling to Dallas Stars

The Coyotes dropped another game falling to the Dallas Stars 4-1, which makes 14 wins in a row for the Stars against the Yotes.
18 hours ago
Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes goaltender...
Associated Press

Coyotes give up 7 goals in loss to Golden Knights

The Arizona Coyotes lost at home to the Vegas Golden Knights, giving up four of their seven goals allowed in the second period.
4 days ago
President, CEO & Alternate Governor Xavier A. Gutierrez (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty I...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes CEO Gutierrez: Report of potential sale, move ‘incredibly frustrating’

Arizona Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez called a report that said the team was for sale and targeting a move "utterly false."
5 days ago
Arizona Coyotes right wing Hudson Fasching (24) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Jon Merrill (4) go af...
Wills Rice

Arizona Coyotes assign Hudson Fasching to Tucson Roadrunners

The Arizona Coyotes announced on Wednesday that forward Hudson Fasching was assigned to the AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners.
7 days ago
Arizona Coyotes center Liam O'Brien (38) and Minnesota Wild right wing Brandon Duhaime (21) fight d...
Associated Press

Early goal in Minnesota not enough as Coyotes drop 2nd of back-to-back

The Arizona Coyotes dropped their second of a back-to-back on Tuesday night, a 5-2 road loss to the Minnesota Wild.
8 days ago
Goaltender Karel Vejmelka #70 of the Arizona Coyotes keeps an eye on teammate Dysin Mayo #61 as he ...
Associated Press

Karel Vejmelka’s 46-save shutout carries Coyotes past Jets

Rookie Karel Vejmelka made 46 saves to record his first career shutout, the most in NHL history for player in the first of their career.
9 days ago
Clayton Keller’s first four-point game sparks Coyotes to third straight win