Keller, Zucker score as Coyotes top Ducks in first home opener win since ’16

Oct 21, 2023, 4:15 PM

Jason Zucker #16 of the Arizona Coyotes takes a shot against Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks d...

Jason Zucker #16 of the Arizona Coyotes takes a shot against Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Mullett Arena on October 21, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

(Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

TEMPE (AP) — Clayton Keller and Jason Zucker scored goals, Karel Vejmelka made 29 saves, and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in their home opener on Saturday.

The Coyotes (3-2) have won three of their first five games for the first time since the 2015-16 season when they won their first three, and they won their home opener for the first time since 2016-17.

Frank Vatrano tipped in a cross-ice pass from Jakob Silfverberg for his fourth goal of the season on a power play to cut the Coyotes’ lead to 2-1 at 7:47 of the third period.

The Ducks pulled goaltender Lukas Dostal with two minutes remaining but could not score again in a contentious game that included 14 penalties, eight by Anaheim, and a fight between Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien and Ducks forward Ross Johnston that knocked the goal off its moorings midway through the second period. Both were given five-minute fighting penalties.

Keller gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle at 14:01 of the second period. The Coyotes spent almost a minute working the puck around in their offensive zone before Keller’s score, after a delayed penalty call.

Zucker scored on a quick wrist shot from the top of the right circle that squeaked under Dostal’s glove with 2:19 remaining in the first period, nine seconds into a power play.

Dostal saved two shots from Nick Schmaltz from point-blank range minutes earlier on the first of the Coyotes’ two power plays.

The Ducks put their most consistent pressure on Vejmelka during a power play early in the second period. Vejmelka turned aside three shots, two by Trevor Zegras, and the defense blocked three others in the first 80 seconds.

Dostal made 25 saves in his second start of the season.

Home still home

The Coyotes, 21-15-5 at home a year ago, began their second season at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus without a permanent home. Tempe voters last spring rejected a proposed $2.1 billion development that would have included a 16,000-seat arena and an entertainment district west of downtown.

“We are using all our resources to secure a new permanent home that will be the envy of Arizona and all of the NHL,” Coyotes chairman Alex Meruelo said in a letter to fans two weeks ago. “Know this: we have left no potential option unturned. The Valley is where the organization and I want to be. My family lives here. We are all in.”

Trainers room

Ducks F Brock McGinn (lower body), C Alex Kilorn (broken finger) and D Jamie Drysdale (lower body) were held out. Kilorn has 198 career goals. … C Adam Henrique returned after missing the last game with an illness.

Coyotes F Michael Carcone left the ice with 40.1 seconds left in the first period and did not return after taking a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Rakio Gudas. … The Coyotes practiced at Mullett on Friday, their first time on home ice. They opening training camp in Australia and stayed there for the NHL Global Series.

Up next

Ducks: Host Boston on Sunday.

Coyotes: at Los Angeles on Tuesday.

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