Coyotes hang on to win thriller, beat Capitals in shootout
The Arizona Coyotes needed every turn of good fortune and good karma they could get Monday to beat the Washington Capitals on the road in the shootout.
It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Coyotes blew a lead in the second period or later. Losing the game would’ve been the fourth loss in a row — the Coyotes won the first game in the streak of blown leads — but Arizona stayed alive and got the W.
Arizona got out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period, but a pair of goals by Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, one in the second and another in the third, plus a late goal by T.J. Oshie with 1:16 to play made it 3-3.
“We’re happy the way we played for the most part, but obviously blowing the leads is tough,” head coach Rick Tocchet said.
Oshie nearly scored again in overtime, but after a long video review, the play was deemed just barely offside. The Coyotes stayed alive.
“You come back from the dead,” Tocchet said of the overturned goal.
A thrilling, sudden-death 3-on-3 OT didn’t amount to any goals, so a shootout was needed to decide the contest. Oshie and Kuznetsov missed their first two shots. Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland scored on the Coyotes’ first two shootout attempts to seal a win, earning a badly-needed two points.
Antti Raanta got his third win of the season. He stopped 31 of the Capitals’ 34 shots, plus two more in the shootout.
“Raants stood tall, he was good. He made the saves when he needed to,” defenseman Jason Demers said. “It was a good hockey game. It had a playoff feel too it and I think it was a huge win for us.”
The first Coyotes goal was scored by Clayton Keller, his third of the season. A nifty play by Alex Goligoski set up a chance for Vinnie Hinostroza, who found Keller in the crease. That made it 1-0 Arizona in the first period.
Two more goals in the first 0:45 seconds of the second period made it three nothing. The first was by Christian Fischer, who benefited on a bang-bang play in front of the net on a neutral zone takeaway from Brad Richardson.
Then, Michael Grabner got yet another breakaway (he has approximately 1,000 of those this season) and scored. He had two breakaways on the night, converting on one. That made it 3-0.
The first Washington goal by Kuznetsov came when Oliver Ekman-Larsson got caught at the end of his shift and couldn’t win a footrace with the goal-scorer. Kuznetsov got on a breakaway and scored on Raanta.
“The gameplan, you’ve got to stay in front of people,” Tocchet said. “And we didn’t get in front of a couple guys. Kuznetsov, especially. You’ve got to back off and you got to get in front of people, and I think we were kind of flat-footed a couple goals.”
Kuznetsov scored again later on a lost faceoff in the Coyotes’ zone. A shot by Washington from up high bounced off the wall, creating a juicy chance for Kuznetsov — he capitalized.
“It was a scrappy game. We had to overcome some circumstances,” Tocchet said. “That’s a good hockey club over there. They’ve got some skill. Kuznetsov — oh my god, was he good tonight. But 3-0 lead, obviously blowing the 3-0, we’re not happy with. But it’s a gutty win for us.”
Arizona went 0-for-2 on the power play but held the Caps scoreless on their three man advantages.
The Coyotes still need to clean up the details. But against a recent Stanley Cup-winning team, the Coyotes get a much-needed win on the road in the first half of a back-to-back.
Arizona will play in St. Louis on Thursday. Puck drop is at 6 p.m., Arizona time.