Coyotes blow out Flyers, end homestand with 3-game win streak
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes’ 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night was the continuation of fixing an issue that maybe hit a low point on Sunday.
When the Coyotes started this four-game homestand, they had lost three of the last four home games and had one of the league’s worst home records. Then, they hosted the Dallas Stars and lost, despite taking a 2-0 lead into intermission in that game. They’ve since won three home games in a row — snapping a three-game overall losing streak, no less.
“Listen, you’ve got to win at home if you want to be successful,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We knew that. We’ve been a little sluggish. I think being at home for a little bit has helped us — usually we’re at home for a little bit and then we’ve got to get out of here.
“The one thing I’m proud of this team, we don’t have the long losing streaks, which is nice. We’ve bounced back after some losses, and this homestand is a tribute to that.”
Arizona got three first-period goals and tacked on another with just 0.3 seconds left in the second period to take a whopping 4-0 lead into second intermission. The Coyotes scored at even strength again in the third and tacked on the empty-netter to make it six tallies on just 22 shots on goal.
The offensive onslaught prompted the Flyers to remove goalie Carter Hart in the first period. Brian Elliott played the rest of the game as Philadelphia outshot Arizona 29-22.
Brad Richardson, Jordan Oesterle, Clayton Keller (2), Lawson Crouse and Derek Stepan were the goal-scorers for the Coyotes. Keller now has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in his last 17 games.
“I’m having fun. I’m shooting the puck and moving my feet,” Keller said. “When I do that, I’m a dangerous player. Moving my feet is the biggest thing. I think I can be successful whenever I do that. I think that’s one thing.
“And our line’s had a lot of chemistry. I think with Carl [Soderberg] and [Nick Schmaltz] I think we all can help each other a little bit. It’s so fun to play with those guys. We want to keep that up and be the difference every single night.”
Keller now has 12 goals this season, tied with Soderberg for the second-most on the team behind Conor Garland’s 14.
Schmaltz assisted on one of Keller’s two goals, as well as Oesterle’s goal. His two-point night brought him up to 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in his last 13 games.
“He’s such a smart player and he can shoot the puck, too,” Keller said of Schmaltz. “He’s so fun to play with and he’s always looking for me, and I’m looking for him as well. It’s fun to play with him, like I said, and we just want to keep it going.”
The Coyotes now have to go to the East Coast, visiting the Florida Panthers (Tuesday), Tampa Bay Lightning (Thursday) and the Carolina Panthers (Friday).
“We’re going over to the other conference now and these are free points for us,” Crouse said. “We’ve got to go over there and take as many as we can and hopefully climb the leaderboard here.”
Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta had a shutout going through two periods but didn’t come back out for the third. Backup Adin Hill, who has been with the team since Darcy Kuemper got hurt, played the entire third period.
“He had a little bit of an issue, a lower-body,” Tocchet said. “So we’ll talk to the doctors here after I get through with you guys.”
Tocchet didn’t call the move precautionary, and said Raanta prompted the goalie change.
“Raants kind of pulled himself because he didn’t feel comfortable about something,” Tocchet said. “I just got the same information during the second intermission.”
If both Raanta and Kuemper miss time simultaneously, the next goalie on the Coyotes’ depth chart would seem to be Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) netminder Ivan Prosvetov. Tucson Star reporter Brett Fera reported that Prosvetov, who was playing on Saturday night, was pulled from that game — likely for if he’s needed with the NHL club on Sunday.
In relief, Hill allowed goals to Tyler Pitlick and Justin Braun. He faced 12 shots, stopping 10.
— Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton, who is on loan to Team Canada for the World Junior Championship and is serving as Canada’s captain, went hard into the end boards on Saturday and left with what appeared to be an arm or similar injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the outlook on Hayton was “not positive” and he was a “long shot” to play in the World Juniors gold medal game.
— Coyotes forward prospect Jan Jenik, who was also injured in the World Junior Championship with the Czech Republic team this week, was seen on crutches on Saturday. The Athletic’s Craig Morgan reported that Jenik was meeting with the Coyotes’ medical staff.
It doesn’t look good for Jenik. pic.twitter.com/D3MvBZKrtb
— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) December 30, 2019