After loss in season opener, Coyotes look to bounce back vs. Ducks
GLENDALE, Ariz. — By multiple accounts, the Arizona Coyotes’ season-opener at the Dallas Stars on Thursday night was not a calamity. It was merely a loss.
Arizona out-shot Dallas 30 to 25. All of the game’s goals were at even-strength. The Coyotes rang shots off the goalpost multiple times. But in a span of just 96 seconds, the Stars capitalized on mistakes and scored three times, and Dallas goalie Ben Bishop stopped all 30 shots he faced as the Coyotes fell 3-0 to begin the season.
“I thought we had some guys that– they were just okay,” head coach Rick Tocchet said Friday. “They’ve just got to match that kind of intensity. We had some guys play well, we had some guys that, they were just a step slow, hesitant. I don’t want this team to play hesitant. And I think that was the difference in the game.
“We still had a bunch of chances, three posts and a crossbar, [Brendan Perlini] had a one-timer miss the net. So we had some chances. But to me, there’s just little things that we didn’t do well that kind of, I was a little upset after the game because I think that was the difference between winning and losing.”
Forward Christian Fischer, who played 14:09 on Thursday with two shots on goal and four penalty minutes, said the game came down to a few minutes’ worth of mistakes. He also said Bishop played well.
“Obviously it’s the first game. You win or lose, it’s one or the other,” Fischer said. “If we won that game, we’d probably be saying the same thing, and in practices and video probably be still trying to fix our mistakes. It’s early, obviously there’s going to be some mistakes early on with new players and just getting back into the groove of things. We’re happy with our team identity.”
After one game, pointing out that it isn’t yet time to hit the panic button may seem obvious. But the Coyotes’ 0-1-0 start this year has a different feel under different circumstances than the one they had last year, when they opened the season in Anaheim and blew a 4-1 lead. They went on to lose 11 straight.
Speaking of Anaheim, the Ducks are the Coyotes’ next task. Arizona is back in its own arena for its home opener, which will take place on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
The Coyotes will wear their throwback Kachina jerseys, as they will for each Saturday home game this year.
“Home opener’s always something to look forward to,” Fischer said. “Obviously lots of fans, should be a packed barn, got our new jerseys too, it should be a cool night. You looked at Dallas, obviously they came out flying too. Any time you have support like that after a big play, big hit, big goal — it’s pretty easy to get ramped up for.”
More importantly, the Coyotes have an opportunity to get their first win, an opportunity they’ll need to seize. A fast start is important, especially for a team missing key players due to injury.
“We had a really good meeting today, probably the most engaged I’ve seen players all year, chime in on some system stuff, on some attitude on the ice, some battle stuff,” Tocchet said. “And some guys chimed in. And I thought it was a great meeting, and I thought it was a really good practice.”
The Anaheim Ducks come to Arizona 1-0-0 after beating the San Jose Sharks on the road to start their season on Wednesday. The Ducks won 5-2 with five different goal-scorers (one being on an empty net), one of whom being 19-year-old Max Comtois, playing in his first NHL game.
Comtois, who was the Ducks’ second-round pick last year, joins 20-year-old Sam Steel (1st round, 2016) and 21-year-old Troy Terry (5th round, 2015) as Anaheim’s youth to go with veterans like captain Ryan Getzlaf.
The Ducks, however, will be without Corey Perry for five months as the former MVP is recovering from a knee injury. Anaheim is looking to make the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
“It’s a team that’s consistently won the last ten years, won a lot of hockey games, been in the playoffs a lot,” Tocchet said. “Getzlaf, an experienced guy, plays for his country, he’s a leader out there. Their power play beat San Jose the other night, [goaltender John] Gibson was great and their power play was great. Those are the elements you’ve got to win hockey games.”
–Jakob Chychrun, lower-body. Continues to practice.
–Christian Dvorak, lower-body, practicing on his own.
–Josh Archibald, upper-body. Could be back as soon as 3-4 days.
–Alex Galchenyuk, lower-body, week-to-week.