GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes won on Monday, just like they did on Saturday: with a shutout. There was a key difference, though: There was a different goaltender in net.
Raanta’s performance became the key to the Coyotes’ 3-0 shutout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. The Kings were denied by Raanta on 31 shot attempts — including a breakaway — just two days after Darcy Kuemper stopped all 37 shots faced from the Calgary Flames.
It was the first time since 2012 the Coyotes shutout opponents in consecutive games. It was the first time in franchise history they recorded consecutive shutouts with different goaltenders.
“I don’t know what to say — it’s so nice having those two guys there, right?” Conor Garland said. “You’re shooting on them in practice all the time, you know how good they are. … It’s great to see those two guys get rewarded, back-to-back, too. That’s pretty cool.”
Raanta’s shutout was his first since March 31, 2018. Originally acquired to be a No. 1 starter, a successor to Mike Smith, injuries limited his ice time the past year and paved the way for the emergence of Darcy Kuemper. Now both goaltenders present a formidable tandem for Arizona.
“I’m not scared to name Raants or Kuemps,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “Obviously what Kuemps has done the last year, or since January of last year, he’s a top goalie. Raants coming back from those injuries, to come into camp good shape, to give us the minutes he’s doing, we’ve got a one-two punch here that’s pretty special with us.”
Since his arrival in Arizona, Raanta has played 67 games and owns a .925 save percentage. In Kuemper’s 79 games with the Coyotes, he has a .924 save percentage; both marks are very respectable. Kuemper also has a .934 save percentage going back to Jan. 1, which is the third-highest in the NHL in that span (Thomas Greiss, Ben Bishop).
“Those guys are leaders in there, Kuemps and Raants,” Tocchet said. “Raants the other day, and Kuemps, we had a day off, but they came to the rink. They wanted shots. [Goaltending coach] Corey Schwab took them out. That’s the sort of stuff they’re doing.
“They know what they have to do to get ready, and they’re willing — on an off day — to go down and take some shots. So it says a lot [about the] character of those two kids.”
A list of the goaltender of record in the last eight games for the Coyotes looks like this:
Some of that has to do with back-to-backs, but the Coyotes have demonstrated with actions — not just words — that they believe in both of their goaltenders. That’s especially true when you consider that Kuemper’s shutout on Saturday was followed by a day off on Sunday, yet Arizona went with Raanta in the next game anyway instead of riding the hot hand.
“Obviously a little bit surprised [to play],” Raanta said. “But it was also nice to get back out there and after the Minnesota game, I felt really good, but there was a couple soft goals. It was nice to get the home game, also. I’ve been playing a lot on the road. So it’s always fun to play home in front of your fans and feel the energy from there.”
Apart from another shutout from another goaltender, perhaps the most significant development from the Coyotes’ win over the Kings on Monday was that they converted twice on the power play, which has been a major issue for them lately.
The power play was 1-for-26 in the last eight games entering Monday. It was 2-for-4 against Los Angeles, which ranks 29th out of 31 teams in penalty kill percentage (72.2%).
“It was huge to get that going,” forward Christian Dvorak said. “We were just moving the puck, moving the puck well. Just winning our battles and was able to execute. So that was big for us.”
“Obviously we were struggling a little bit, so definitely keyed in on that, practiced that this morning and it payed off.”
Dvorak was the primary assist on the Coyotes’ only even-strength goal Monday, during which he lifted the stick of an opposing player and dished a behind-the-back pass to Garland, who scored. It might be a candidate for assist of the year when it’s all said and done, set up previously by hard work down low by Garland.
Garland’s goal was his team-leading 10th of the season.
Later in the first period, Derek Stepan was the goal-scorer when Arizona had good puck movement on the power play. Phil Kessel passed across the ice from the left side, allowing Dvorak to put a shot on net. Stepan cleaned up the rebound.
Stepan’s goal was his fourth of the season, and he has now scored in back-to-back games. That made it 2-0 Coyotes.
In the second period, Garland found Jakob Chychrun at the left circle. He scored his fifth goal of the season to make it 3-0, and also make it a two-point night for Garland.
“We had a good day off yesterday and came ready to play today,” Dvorak said. “I thought we had a good 60 minutes, except we had a couple penalties [four]. But other than that, it was a good game overall.”
The goaltender for the Kings was Jack Campbell, who made 24 saves. The Coyotes were out-shot 31-27.