GLENDALE, Ariz. — Nicklas Grossmann was surprisingly subdued following the most productive offensive game of his 11-year NHL career on Thursday at Gila River Arena.
“He’s a pro,” defensive partner Connor Murphy said. “I’m sure he’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Grossmann posted the first two-goal game of his career as the Coyotes snapped a three-game winless streak at home with a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at Gila River Arena. In 542 previous NHL games, Grossmann had notched just 10 goals, so Thursday’s outburst actually marked the first time that Grossmann had scored two goals in the same month, let alone the same game.
“It’s always fun to contribute offensively,” Grossmann said. “I always try to take care of the defensive part but it’s fun to contribute.”
At the start of the season, Grossmann said he values blocking shots over scoring goals and he wasn’t budging from that belief after earning the wrestling belt from his teammates as the player of the game.
“I’ll still hold onto that statement,” he said smiling.
The Coyotes don’t expect the big Swede’s offensive onslaught to continue. He was brought here in a trade for Sam Gagner to provide a stabilizing presence in the Coyotes’ zone, and Grossman impressed his coach in all areas of the game on Thursday.
“Gross had a real good night, not just the goal(s),” Tippett said. “He was really strong around our net. I thought our penalty killing (5 for 5) was really strong and he was a big part of that.”
The key for Grossmann at the offensive end was simply getting pucks to the net. Before Thursday, he was credited with just four shots on goal this season (although that stat is likely incorrect). Against the Avs, he had three shots.
“We talked all week about trying to get pucks to the net with traffic and that first goal was a great example of that,” Tippett said. “(Center Tyler) Gaudet wasn’t beside the goalie. He was in front of the goalie and that’s where we have to be.”
Grossmann opened the scoring with his first goal of the season to put the Coyotes on top 1-0 at 7:05 of the first period. With Gaudet providing a perfect screen and two Avalanche defenseman also creating traffic, the puck slipped through goalie Semyon Varlamov’s pads.
After Colorado cut the Coyotes lead to 2-1 early in the second period, Grossmann restored the lead when his shot from the point bounced off Varlamov and Avalanche center Ben Street before going into the net at 5:15 of the second period.
“We knew that they have a skilled team; a lot of good offensive players,” Grossmann said of the Avalanche. “We wanted to play in their zone and get pucks on net.”
Tippett said after the game that defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is taking a ribbing from his teammates and the coaching staff because two defenseman who don’t play the power play (Ekman-Larsson does) have more goals than him.
Those two players also happen to be Swedes, like Ekman-Larsson. Grossmann and Klas Dahlbeck both have two goals. Ekman-Larsson has one.
“We’ve got a lot of defensemen who have as many or more goals than him,” Tippett quipped.
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