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Coyotes beat Ducks in comeback fashion to improve home record

Arizona Coyotes center Carl Soderberg, left, celebrates his goal against Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, middle, as Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) looks for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes won 4-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A gloomy outlook turned into to a sigh of relief for the Arizona Coyotes at home on Thursday night.

The Coyotes were down 2-1 after two periods to an Anaheim Ducks team that is 6-13-2 on the road this season. Arizona’s home record was already among the worst in the league. But the Coyotes came out for the third period and scored three unanswered goals to win 4-2.

“I just think our group has to remember who we are and, like I keep saying, embrace or be comfortable with it, we have to play a certain style for us to be successful,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We get out of that style, now we’re getting into murky waters, to territory that we don’t want to get into. So I think the third period especially, I liked the way we played.”

Lawson Crouse got the Coyotes up 1-0 in the first before goals by Jakob Silfverberg and Max Jones in the first and second periods, respectively, made it 2-1 Ducks after 40 minutes. Tocchet said he didn’t feel like the Coyotes gave the Ducks much in the first two periods, just a couple of mistakes made a difference.

In the third period, Christian Dvorak, Brad Richardson and Carl Soderberg each scored to make it 4-1. Crouse, Dvorak, Richardson and Soderberg all play on different lines, so it happened that all 12 Coyotes forwards got a point in the game.

“They should share some points to us defensemen,” Oliver Ekman-Larsson joked.

Antti Raanta started in goal for Arizona and John Gibson did the same for Anaheim. Raanta made 26 saves as the Coyotes out-shot the Ducks 34-28.

HOME STRUGGLES

The home record has been an issue for the Coyotes this year. After Thursday night’s win, Arizona had the fifth-worst home record in the NHL. Its road record is third-best in the league. This week, though, the Coyotes have rebounded from a home loss on Sunday night against the Stars and beat St. Louis and Anaheim to get to 2-1 so far on this four-game homestand.

“It’s been a kind of struggle, one on, one off for us,” Richardson said. “But definitely Saturday [vs. the Flyers] we really want to get that one and send ourselves off on that road trip the right way. But definitely most good teams can kind of get that home ice and especially leading into the second half, it’d be nice to do that.”

After hosting Philadelphia on Saturday, the Coyotes go on a three-game trip to Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina. They’ll then get a two-game homestand against Pittsburgh (Jan. 12) and San Jose (Jan. 14). Thursday’s win over Anaheim was a good momentum swing in the right direction.

“We obviously knew that was a big game for us and we’ve been talking about it a lot with you guys, that we need to put some wins together here at home and in front of our fans,” Ekman-Larsson said.

KELLER’S HOT STREAK

Keller — like all the other forwards — got a point on Thursday night. He hadn’t had a point in his last three games prior, but that one point nonetheless meant that he had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his last 16 games.

“Just stopping and starting on pucks,” Tocchet said when asked why Keller has been so successful lately. “He’s more playing inside, obviously; he’s making better decisions in his own end. I think his defensive game, for the most part, the last 15 games … it’s been pretty good. And I feel when he’s locked in defensively, in good position, he usually does play well in the game.

“It’s when he starts circling and getting away from his game, that’s when he has a tough time. To me, it’s a credit the way he’s played positionally in his own end has transpired in the offensive end for sure, for me. It goes hand-in-hand.”

ODDITIES

There were two unusual phenomena surrounding Thursday night’s hockey game.

First, between the first and second intermissions, a couple held their wedding ceremony on the Coyotes’ bench. Jen and Duane tied the knot with some officiating help from in-arena host Kristen Keogh. The Zambonis hummed along during the brief ceremony. Congratulations to the happy couple.

Secondly, as happens from time to time, a player jokingly joined reporters in a media scrum following the game. Though this time, the reporter-for-a-day Antti Raanta decided to ask a question to interviewee Christian Dvorak, whose locker is near Raanta’s.

“Obviously a good win, but how do you feel about the Fins beating the USA again in the World Juniors?” Raanta, a native of Finland, asked Dvorak, a native of Illinois.

“No comment,” Dvorak said.


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