An overtime power play win for the Arizona Coyotes is just what they needed coming off of their first road trip of the season. Though statistically the trip might not have looked great, there was obvious improvement in the Coyotes overall game. Goaltending was better, their defense was getting back to how they are known to perform, and their offense was just okay (more-so in the first game against Nashville). They were shutout in Minnesota against the Wild, but lost 4-3 in shootout to the Preds.
In the second home overtime of the season, Oliver Ekman-Larsson played hero for the team in the last seconds of a Power Play (and even the last minutes of the OT). When asked about the goal OEL jumped on the question saying “it’s great to get two points, so it was fun”. On a one-timer from the D-man OEL, Florida Panthers Roberto Luongo let one fall in glove-side, meaning the ‘Yotes got another one in OT. The initial pass was on a new play that Tippett has said that they were working on during practice. This specific play is where they switch sides, in this case with Yandle who “passed it down to Gagner” who passed it up to Ekman-Larsson who “just one-timed it”. There you have another OT beauty.
Post-game, everyone got a laugh about the fact that both of the defenseman’s goals of the season, were scored in the same situation. Apparently in overtime on the power play is where OEL thrives, and it has truly shown, statistically and visually. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is not going to let himself just score game winning goals, in fact he says, “I’m fine with that, but hopefully not”. He goes on to point out that it’s “fun to score goals”, but improving his game and “trying to help” his teammates are the bigger priority.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is known for his defensive skill. The start of the season has been rough for him, but you can tell his hard work is getting him back up to the spot that he so proudly holds on the team. In his eyes, he still has a lot more work to get back to his original state. He went far enough to say that he “is not happy about [his] game”, but it did “feel better today”. He put more emphasis on working hard on his game and said that to get it to where he wants it (and his team wants it) he needs to “keep working hard and building up [his] game”.
Justin Hodgman, a player they brought up from the Portland Pirates after only playing 3 games down there, had a phenomenal night. He put the Coyotes on the board with his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. T
The game wasn’t perfect, and the team still has a far way to go, but they are headed in the right direction. The past three games have been evidence of this. Mike Smith is getting more comfortable and feeling his way back into being ready in goal is one of the biggest things. The team is not letting the blame fall on him; they are stepping up and taking full responsibility.
They know they need to be better. They know that they need to produce goals. This is something that the team has struggled with for a while now. They have a normally stellar defense, but offensively they lack. Coach Dave Tippett reiterated that that is still one of the main things that they need improvement on. He was very positive, though, with where they are headed, and for good reason. Martin Hanzal should be back and ready to play, and this means a lot for the offense. David Moss sounds like it is going to be a longer recovery, and he will not be traveling with the team during the road trip that starts on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
Sam Gagner had the huge assist on the OEL goal, and his overall game at wing. This is a new position for him, considering he is usually at center. His adjustment to his new team has included the adjustment to being on the wing. His effectiveness over there has made a huge impact on the whole team. Gagner proved to the team tonight with a game-winning assist that he has what it takes to flow with the team.
Consistency has been lacking for the Coyotes thus far, but Gagner was one of the guys to say that they “need that consistency every night” and that it is essential to “take it on the (upcoming) road trip”.
Gagner on the game:
“[About being on the wing] It felt good. It felt like I adjusted. There’s still some different things in the d-zone and on the wall that you need to be aware of at the wing that I’m adjusting to. But I thought it was a great game. It felt like we were creating some things. Hopefully continue to do that.”
They powered through offensively with so many shots on goal tonight. They over shot the Panthers 41-24. It was fairly close during the first two scoreless periods, but once a goal to win the game was necessary, there were shots flying everywhere. The 8 power plays against Florida, sure didn’t help, considering both of the Coyotes goals were scored on the PP.
Overall, the game is getting to where it needs to be. The way that they are performing as of late shows signs of success. They have a very long way to go, but putting in the work like they say that they will is how things are going to get done.
Coach Tippett seemed happy with what the team is coming to. When the game is tied scoreless going late into the game, there is obviously a hard-fought battle from both sides. Tippett said that he “liked the way we came back and overcame” the goal scored against them early in the third period.
Offensively, the Coyotes improved drastically, and that was evident with the 77 shots that went at the net. Tippett said that having that many shots at the net means they’re “going in the right direction”, but they could still improve on scoring off of the Power Play.
“Hopefully the odds are with you,” said Tippett. “You throw that many pucks at the net and the odds have to be with you. We had a lot on the power play, a lot of power play shots tonight which when they are power plays they can generate chances and generate shots and that’s one of the strengths of it so we have to keep pounding away at that”
The Coyotes are traveling this week to Florida to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers, again on Thursday and they wrap it up in Carolina on Saturday. They play at home, next, on Tuesday, November 4th against the Toronto Maple Leafs.