Coyotes give up 5 goals, drop 2nd straight loss against Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Shea Theodore scored two goals, Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Wednesday night.
It marks the first time the Golden Knights have started 4-0-0 in their four-year existence. They’re the first team in the NHL to reach four wins this season.
Alex Tuch added a goal and two assists, Mark Stone had a goal and an assist, and Alex Pietrangelo scored his first goal with Vegas.
Nick Schmaltz and Phil Kessel scored for Arizona (1-2-1). Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves.
Heading into the game, Golden Knights defensemen had no goals through three games despite taking 37.7% (34 of 90) of the team’s shots on goal.
That scoring drought ended when Theodore fired the team’s first shot on goal past Kuemper with a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle. Three minutes later it was Pietrangelo, the club’s prize acquisition during the offseason, giving Vegas a 2-0 lead with the team’s third shot on goal.
Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet expressed frustration postgame at the way his team handled the Golden Knights’ attack on Wednesday, saying the Coyotes didn’t execute well enough to deserve a win on the road.
“Just not ready to play and that’s my fault. We had some guys, we made boneheaded mistakes. Undisciplined penalties. We didn’t work hard enough, didn’t compete,” Tocchet said. “We’re not a team that can have four or five guys not ready to go. So it’s my fault.
“It’s disheartening because I thought we were headed in the right direction. So this was definitely a punch in the gut. I know it’s early, but we lost about four or five battles and we were still in the game there. Our power play stunk and we just can’t really say that we played well.”
Pietrangelo and Theodore finished fourth and sixth in last year’s voting for the Norris Trophy, honoring the league’s top defenseman.
Fleury did his part to keep momentum on Vegas’ side with several highlight-reel saves, including stops on Jakob Chychrun and Johan Larsson in the first period, and second-period gems against Phil Kessel and Drake Caggiula to keep Arizona off the board.
Stone made it 3-0 after Nic Hague created a turnover as the Coyotes were exiting the zone. Max Pacioretty gathered the loose puck after Hague poked it loose from Lawson Crouse and tapped it to Stone, who slipped the puck between Kuemper’s skate and the post.
Arizona answered shortly afterward when Schmaltz’s one-timer rang off the post past Fleury.
Theodore got his second goal of the night during a 4-on-4 early in the third period on an odd-man rush after a turnover by Arizona’s Jason Demers in the Coyotes zone. One minute later, Tuch gave Vegas its first power-play goal of the season when he blew past two defenders on the right wing and went five-hole on Kuemper, extending Vegas’ lead to four.
Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski said the team’s approach in the second period was better than what they’ve shown through much of the early regular season but that the work they’ve put in hasn’t netted much in the way of results.
“I thought we had a great start. We had some really good looks, and I don’t think they had a shot on goal in the first five or six shifts and then they popped that goal. So it’s kind of weird how a lot of games seem to go like that.”
The effort Goligoski referenced was on display when Kessel’s redirect on Chychrun’s drive from the point brought Arizona within three with a little more than 12 minutes left.
Arizona center Derick Brassard attributed much of the Golden Knights’ success on Wednesday night to the team’s talent but stopped short of saying the visitors were outclassed by their opponents.
“They’re a good team but they’re beatable. Everybody’s beatable. If we play our game I think that we can play with anyone in the league,” Brassard said. “You’ve got to give them credit, they played well. But we’ll try to play even better at home in the next two games.”
The Coyotes and Golden Knights shift their four-game, home-and-home series to Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, for back-to-back games on Friday and Sunday.