ARIZONA COYOTES

Coyotes’ penalty kills, timely goals lead to much-needed win over Blues

Dec 31, 2019, 10:39 PM | Updated: Jan 1, 2020, 11:04 pm
Goaltender Antti Raanta #32 of the Arizona Coyotes makes a save on the puck as Brayden Schenn #10 o...
Goaltender Antti Raanta #32 of the Arizona Coyotes makes a save on the puck as Brayden Schenn #10 of the St. Louis Blues skates in during the second period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 31, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The last game of the decade for the Arizona Coyotes carried considerable importance, and the team rose to the holiday occasion.

The Coyotes (22-16-4) didn’t want a win on Tuesday; they needed one, because their poor home record and three-game losing streak were both the wrong things to carry into 2020, when NHL hockey only gets more intense as the playoff race thickens. So Arizona beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions at home, 3-1, hours before the year 2019 came to a close.

“Nobody’s panicking in here, it’s our first three-game losing streak,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We don’t really listen to the outside noise. We had to worry about our game — the details of our game.

“I just felt that we believed that we were going to win, and that’s what we need is that belief.”

Tuesday was a welcome turnaround from the game prior. On Sunday night against Dallas, Arizona had a 2-0 lead going into second intermission and eventually lost 4-2. Dating back to last season, the Coyotes’ identity has been defense and penalty killing, while defense lacked at times lately. So too did the “details.”

The response against the Blues included a perfect penalty kill — including the kill of a long 5-on-3 Blues power play — and only one goal allowed all night.

“That was a huge momentum (shift) for us right there,” Tocchet said of the 5-on-3. “That’s hard work there and after we killed it, we kind of got back in the game. I thought that the penalty kill was huge for us tonight.”

Antti Raanta started in goal for the Coyotes and stopped 38 shots as Arizona was out-shot 39-26. Jake Allen was in goal for St. Louis.

“It was really good,” Raanta said of the penalty kill. “I think that was probably the first or second 5-on-3 this year for me. … We took the middle away really well, and they really didn’t get the one-timers. So it made my life a little bit easier.

“I think that gives you the kind of little push when you can kill the 5-on-3, and it was almost two minutes. So that gives you a little bit more energy, and I think in the third period and it was kind of our game, and we got the confidence from the kill, for sure.”

A first period goal by Conor Garland was his team-leading 14th of the season and his fourth point in three games. After Tyler Bozak knotted the game at 1-1, the Coyotes stymied the Blues power play to set the table for Phil Kessel’s third-period goal to make it 2-1.

Late in the third, the Blues were called for a penalty on a delayed call. Arizona stalled and brought the puck back into its own zone multiple times, killing about a minute of clock with a lead before St. Louis finally touched the puck to stop play. Then, the Coyotes started a power play with only 2:32 left to play and a 2-1 lead. It was a great deal of insurance.

An empty-netter from Nick Schmaltz closed it out with a 3-1 final score.

“We’ve got a good team here,” Kessel said. “We work hard. We’re tough to play against and I think every night, we’re going to give them a close game.”

Arizona enters the New Year in second place in the Pacific Division, two points back of Vegas.

Penguin Air

Penguin Air

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Coyotes

Goaltender Karel Vejmelka #70 of the Arizona Coyotes is introduced before the NHL game against the ...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Coyotes ranked with NHL’s worst goaltending tandem

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski deemed the Arizona Coyotes to have the NHL's worst goaltending tandem in his rankings for the 2022-23 season.
1 day ago
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes prepares for the first round of the 2021 NHL ...
Jordan Leandre

Arizona Coyotes add 2 former NHL players as development coaches

The Arizona Coyotes appointed former NHL veterans Kurtis Foster and Jeff Shantz to their player development staff on Monday.
3 days ago
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson (34) makes a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes right wing...
Jordan Leandre

Arizona Coyotes claim goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers

The Arizona Coyotes added to their goaltending corps Friday, claiming Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.
6 days ago
Andre Tourigny (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Tom Kuebel

Arizona Coyotes face daunting early schedule with 2 long road trips

The Arizona Coyotes face the difficulties of playing 27 of its first 31 games on the road, including the preseason.
8 days ago
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes prepares for the first round of the 2021 NHL ...
Arizona Sports

Armstrong on new season for Coyotes: ‘We’ve got to take a step forward’

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, entering the second year of a rebuild, explains his expectations for the 2022-23 season.
9 days ago
Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes looks to pass the puck during the NHL game against the Los...
Tom Kuebel

Arizona Coyotes D Jakob Chychrun wants to be traded to contender

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun is looking to get moved to a contender and will miss the opening of training camp with an injury. 
15 days ago
Coyotes’ penalty kills, timely goals lead to much-needed win over Blues