‘Mute line’ makes noise as Coyotes earn 1st win, Barrett Hayton debuts
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes 2018 first-round pick Barrett Hayton comes across as quiet and not overly animated. The same could be said about his linemates on Thursday night, Christian Dvorak and Nick Schmaltz.
So, there was a humorous nickname for the trio that drew laughs from those around him when Hayton revealed it.
“We’re all kind of quiet guys, a couple guys called us the ‘mute line,'” Hayton said.
Quiet or not, they were noticeable on the ice as a solid second line in the Arizona Coyotes’ first win of the season on Thursday, a 4-1 victory at home over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Thursday was Arizona’s third game of the season. It lost the first two to Anaheim and Boston, respectively, generating offense but not finishing on scoring chances. Its best line to that point was clearly the Clayton Keller, Derek Stepan and Phil Kessel trio at the top of the lineup.
But Hayton’s NHL debut on Thursday (Lawson Crouse sat out after being day-to-day during the week) gave head coach Rick Tocchet the chance to see a new line, the aforementioned one with Hayton, Dvorak and Schmaltz.
That line generated multiple scoring chances and one goal, scored by Schmaltz. Schmaltz’s five shots on goal led the Coyotes and tied a career high. According to Natural Stat Trick, four of the Coyotes’ 19 scoring chances on Thursday were taken by Schmaltz, leading the team.
“Nick had a couple good practices, I thought he was playing well,” Tocchet said. “Dvo’s [Dvorak] been playing well these three games. I like his maturity over the last year. So that line was good.
“Sometimes [the opponent is] going to key on certain people and when you go four [lines] deep and you get those goals, they’re big.”
Indeed, having more than one formidable offensive line in the lineup is big for the Coyotes, who saw Hayton in a regular season NHL game for the first time. Hayton got his long-awaited taste of the NHL after being picked fifth overall by the Coyotes last year.
He picked up his first career point on Schmaltz’s goal, a secondary assist created by a one-armed pass to Dvorak and then Schmaltz for the finish:
“It’s been great, I think getting some practice in this week with them, just kind of getting a little bit of chemistry,” Hayton said. “I think we all feel the game pretty well and we’re able to kind of read off each other so it’s been great. They’re two special players.”
Hayton had a shot on goal and 11:24 time on ice with 1:20 on the power play (on which the Coyotes were 0-for-2).
“It was amazing,” Hayton said. “I think it’s something you dream of [for] a long time and it was definitely nothing short of what those dreams are.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Besides finding chemistry on a second line in the top-six on Thursday, the Coyotes got offense from a third line of Conor Garland, Carl Soderberg and Christian Fischer as Garland scored two goals.
Garland broke the scoring open on Thursday with an odd goal in which he was trying to pass the puck out from behind the net. It bounced off the skate of Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague and past goalie Malcolm Subban to make it 1-0 Coyotes.
He scored a breakaway goal later.
“They did a hell of a job for us,” Tocchet said of that third line, noting that line was on the ice for three of the Coyotes’ four goals.
After Schmaltz and Garland, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson scored the Coyotes’ fourth goal. A faceoff won at the right circle sent a puck back up to the point, and Fischer’s screen in front allowed Hjalmarsson to slap it home. It was Hjalmarsson’s first goal since March 5, 2018.
Hjalmarsson was the only skater in the NHL last year to play all 82 games and not score a goal (you can read more about what he does do a lot, here).
Speaking of defensemen, the Coyotes allowed only one goal to the Golden Knights on Thursday, scored by Shea Theodore. Arizona has allowed only four goals in three games this season, the second-best goals allowed per game in the NHL this year behind only the Ducks.
Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves as the Coyotes were out-shot 38-29.
— The win over Vegas was the Coyotes’ first home win over the Golden Knights in their team’s history. The 2019-20 season marks the Golden Knights’ third season of existence.