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Coyotes play preseason split squad; Antti Raanta returns to game action

Goaltender Antti Raanta #32 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Senators 5-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes won a game and lost another on the same evening. Such is the nature of split squad preseason games, which took place with the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Arizona won its road game, 5-0, and lost its home game, 4-1, so head coach Rick Tocchet took the optimistic approach when asked what he thought of his team’s home game in Glendale.

“We’re up 5-0 in LA right now,” he said. “So, what is it — 6-4? We win.”

Maybe the joke is a fitting tribute to how much the final score of a preseason game should matter. What does matter, though, is both the preparation and the evaluation that can be had during the preseason.

“I didn’t like the execution,” Tocchet said. “You’ve got some young kids in the lineup and stuff and they’re trying to find their way, and it’s the first game for some guys, it’s been a while. So you can tell. The result? I don’t care about the result. Just the passing wasn’t good. Seemed it was a little bit sluggish. A lot of summer hockey in there.”

Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz, Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan, Victor Soderstrom, Michael Grabner, Brad Richardson and Goligoski were among those who played in Tuesday’s home game at Gila River Arena. The lone Coyotes goal was scored by Stepan, assisted by Kessel.

The Coyotes have one more preseason home game coming up on Saturday against the Ducks. From there, they’ll play three preseason games on the road before starting their regular season at Anaheim on Oct. 3.

ANTTI RAANTA’S BACK

Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who entered last season as the starter, played in a game on Tuesday for the first time since Nov. 27, 2018.

“It’s been a long time for Raants,” Tocchet said. “I thought he had some good saves early. We’ve got to get him some work. … Get him back in there tomorrow, practice. I’m not worried about Raants. He worked real hard this summer to get back in there again.”

Raanta only played two periods in Tuesday’s preseason contest. Goalie prospect Ivan Prosvetov played the third period.

THE POWER PLAY

It’s hard to take much away from the personnel groupings in a split squad game, since much of the players weren’t even present in the Coyotes’ game in Arizona. Further still, preseason can give coaches license to experiment, so nothing is set in stone.

That being said, a group with Schmaltz, Kessel, Stepan, Barrett Hayton and Goligoski was one of the five-man power play units featured on Tuesday. At one point, a shot by Goligoski hit the post.

The Coyotes went 0-for-4 on the power play in Glendale and, per NHL.com, 0-for-3 on the man advantage in Los Angeles.

ROSTER CUTS

The Coyotes made their first round of training camp cuts on Monday, reassigning the following players back to their junior teams: goaltender David Tendeck; defensemen Axel Bergkvist, Dennis Busby, Connor Hall, Brady Lyle, Liam Kirk and David Levin; forwards Valentin Nussbaumer and Eric Uba.

The training camp roster is now at 52 players.

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