A 6-0 loss on Tuesday night by the Coyotes meant that their Thursday night game was going to be played with a vengeance, and that is exactly what they did.
When the game starts and within three minutes the ‘Yotes are leading 2-0, it looks like a whole different team than what fans previously witnessed two days before. Two power play goals in the first alone against a team that they have previously lost 6-2 to on home ice, showed that the team was making strides in the right direction.
Penalty kill on point
Last game I was writing about how their penalty kill destroyed them from the inside out. After last night’s game, they looked like an entirely different team.
At the end of the first period, an unfortunate three penalties were dealt to them within a three minute span of time. Some different defensive matchup’s due to injuries were playing and the teams special teams dominated the Winnipeg Jets.
Two five-on-three’s within the three various penalties in the first, really showed the urgency that they had to help their goalie out. Winnipeg is 0-10 on five-on-three’s this season, and the Coyotes strong effort had a huge part in making the statistic even more dramatic. That is exactly what the team needed to do to redeem themselves to head coach Dave Tippett after he deemed their play not acceptable on Tuesday night.
Seven penalties for the Coyotes in the game and seven times they stopped the Jet’s from getting any sort of lead on them. Big improvement there.
Mikkel Boedker said “the key to the game” was their penalty kill. “A lot of penalties against and a couple for, and we capitalized on the ones for. That was really important. … Power play was really good, but I think it was overshadowed by the PK and obviously your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and tonight he was.”
Taking the game offensively
Three power play goals on the night. Three huge steps in the right direction for their offense (and defense in Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s case).
It’s not often that the Coyotes have a pretty good lead on a team, because offensively they lack. They don’t have a specific player that is up in the leader boards in points. Last night, it was a team effort and they executed wonderfully on the power plays they were given to extend their lead. They were 3-for-5 on their PP chances and they were able to yield three of their four this way.
Ekman-Larsson, a defenseman, has been outstanding offensively thus far, scoring eleven goals in forty games. He leads the NHL defensemen in power play goals with eight. He also leads the NHL in game winning goals with seven, narrowly beating out Chicago Blackhawks power forward Patrick Kane, who has six.
Captain Shane Doan had a multi-point night. He boasted three points on a goal and two assists.
“Yeah obviously the last time we played them they embarrassed us, and we were also embarrassed in our last game.” said Doan. “It was big for us to get the lead, play with the lead, add to it, and keep going.”
Boedker, the teams leading forward, boasts eleven goals so far. He notched two last night, helping the Coyotes keep their pace and their lead in the game. He started off the scoring with the first power play goal 1:10 into the first, and ended the game with a skillful even strength goal in the third.
Making the lead 3-0, and executing the plays was vital to their game and Boedker was very satisfied with the momentum that the team created.
“It was very big, it was really important for us to gain momentum and just know that we were capable of playing with the lead. I think it gave Smith a little help out there, that he wasn’t on the edge, and he could relax and make the big saves he made. He was really strong for us tonight.”
Smith feeling more in his place
Mike Smith looked completely different in goal last night. After a 6-0 loss, it may have come as a shock that they would play him against a team to whom they have previously lost. Smith said that even letting six goals in the other night, he felt good about his game. Having that confidence in himself and his skill was exactly what he needed, due to his lack in his self-assurance after some big losses.
Post-game Smitty was on top of the world. That win on his part was very deserving. Smith feels that he’s “turned a corner” in his game and has gotten some “swagger back.”
His goaltending coach, Sean Burke, has been up with Team Canada at the World Juniors Championship 2015 since before Christmas, and Smith joked before that he has been fine without him. When asked if he liked having him back he got a laugh out of everyone by commenting “somewhat”and that he’s “been okay without him”.
Smith, a former Olympian with Team Canada quipped that his gold medal was a “little bit bigger” but they “did about the same amount of work” due to the fact that neither saw ice time.
“Our penalty kill did a good job for the most part letting me see shots and not letting them get to too many rebounds,” said Smith. “I think that recipe is successful.”
Things to know
- Forward Martin Hanzal is out day-to-day with an upper body injury. He isn’t ruled out for Saturday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. He is a key piece to their offense, and they obviously struggled on the offense without him against the St. Louis Blues.
- Defenseman Zbynek Michalek was out day-to-day last night with an upper body injury. His return is not known. Saturday morning skate should be the deciding factor.