GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes were so impressed by goaltender Louis Domingue’s shorthanded, breakaway save on Saturday against the New York Islanders that they decided to up the ante on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Our players were so excited about that they gave him two tonight,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett deadpanned.
Domingue made a pair of stops on a shorthanded, 2-on-0 with Maple Leafs Byron Froese and Michael Grabner. He also stopped Grabner on a penalty shot to send the Coyotes into the holiday break with their second straight win, a 3-2 decision over the Leafs that pushed Arizona (16-15-2) one point out of playoff position in the Pacific Division.
“I’m feeling good right now and the team is playing well,” said Domingue, who made 37 saves to raise his season save percentage to .945. “We’re finding ways to get pucks in the net and we’re finding ways to keep it out.”
Captain Shane Doan had a pair of goals in a 14-second span of the first period to move within three of Dale Hawerchuk’s franchise record for goals (379) in a career. Defenseman Connor Murphy had the game-winner on a blast through a screen early in the third period as Arizona improved to 9-5-1 at Gila River Arena.
Tippett said he is leaning toward playing Domingue again on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, but the Coyotes play the following night in Denver so Anders Lindback will likely get one of those two games.
Whatever the decision, Domingue has given the Coyotes an unexpected and welcome lift in the wake of Mike Smith’s abdomen injury and surgery that will sideline him for the next seven to nine weeks.
Tippett didn’t chart an inordinate amount of quality scoring chances for the Maple Leafs in a game he termed “sloppy,” but there were more than Domingue faced against the Islanders in a 1-0 shutout and they were mostly memorable ones.
Aside from the 2-on-0 and the penalty shot, Domingue stopped Shawn Matthias on a speed rush down the left wing after defenseman Michael Stone got caught flat-footed. The puck was eventually knocked in, but the officials ruled Matthias made incidental contact with Domingue and coach Mike Babcock’s coach’s challenge failed to overturn that call.
Domingue also stopped P.A. Parenteau midway through the third period on a post-to-post save and he made a point blank stop on Peter Holland with 7:30 left in the game.
Teams often talk about confidence bleeding out from a goalie, but when the Coyotes gave up the 2-on-0, Murphy said the entire bench froze and held its collective breath.
“Those two seconds where they’re skating down the ice feel like five minutes,” said Murphy, who noted the lift the team got from Domingue’s saves. “It shouldn’t happen a few times in a game like it did tonight, but it did.”
Domingue stopped Froese with his right pad and then to his right to get a glove on Grabner’s rebound.
“That’s an underrated part of getting a win,” Murphy said.
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