The Blues kept fighting until the very last minute, but the Coyotes finished with a much needed two points.
The Arizona Coyotes went into tonight’s game with a mission. They played fifteen minutes of great hockey on Tuesday and needed to find a way to stretch that effort over a full sixty-minute game.
They mostly succeeded.
The first period started very similar to Tuesday. The Coyotes came out hot and put a lot of rubber on Jordan Binnington. At one point, just like the game on Tuesday, they were out-shooting the Blues 10-1.
Arizona finally scored just under halfway through the first. Tyler Pitlick worked hard to keep the zone and got the puck to a waiting Christian Dvorak. Dvorak got the puck to Drake Caggiula, who found a streaking Pitlick. Pitlick was the only reason they were in the zone, and he buried it home and gave Arizona the 1-0 lead.
St. Louis responded with a push of their own, and Antti Raanta needed to make some big saves when Clayton Keller was in the box serving a tripping call. But unlike the previous game, the Coyotes weathered the storm and kept them off the score-sheet.
And because they weathered the storm, they were able to counter-attack. Late in the first, Conor Garland walked right in on Binnington. Garland couldn’t put it home, but the puck was waiting in the blue paint. Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz crashed the net and put it home, with Schmaltz getting credit for the goal.
The Blues came out strong to start the second, but again the Coyotes stayed calm and worked to regain control. They countered the Blues pushes and even generated some offense of their own five minutes into the second.
The “Short Leash” line was going to work in the offensive zone with some smooth puck movement. Jason Demers took a great shot from the faceoff circles. Binnington made the first save, but Conor Garland was waiting to tap home the rebound and give the Coyotes their third of the night.
That would be the last goal for a long time. Both goaltenders played well for most of the second and third, despite pushes by both teams. Arizona had the lead, but St. Louis was never out of the game.
The third was mostly uneventful, and it looked like the Coyotes were going to finish strong. But St. Louis made the bold decision to pull their goaltender with 4:51 left in the game.
And from there, things went crazy.
Mike Hoffman got the Blues their first of the game. It was a pretty uneventful slap shot taken well above the faceoff circles. Raanta had three Coyotes players in front of him, and the puck found its way past him.
It was a shame to see Raanta lose the shutout, but that wasn’t the end of it.
St. Louis needed two more, and Binnington was back on the bench. Conor Garland brought the puck into the Blues’ zone only to have his shot blocked by a Blues’ player. Christian Dvorak was able to recover the puck and scored the eventual game-winner.
All credit to the Blues. That could have put an end to the comeback, but they just kept pushing.
Binnington kept going to the bench, giving St. Louis the extra attacker. After a St. Louis faceoff win, Jaden Schwartz found a waiting Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly was all alone in front of Raanta, and he cut the Coyotes led to two.
There are few players you want alone in front of your goaltender, and O’Reilly is not one of them.
And that still wasn’t all. The Blues struck again when Hoffman was waiting alone at the faceoff dot. David Perron got the puck to him, and with 25 seconds left, they cut Arizona’s lead to 1.
But the Coyotes, thankfully, shut it down enough from there. St. Louis came very close, and it looked like St. Louis came seconds away from tying the game. It wasn’t the best ending, but the Coyotes finished with two much-needed points against a good team.
Tonight’s squad in STL. pic.twitter.com/vZ06RyarS1
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 5, 2021
- This was the Blues’ Reverse Retro night as they wore a very red jersey. I honestly didn’t think they looked that bad, but they didn’t look like a team named “Blues.”
- Tonight was the first game of the season for both Ilya Lyubushkin and Michael Chaput. Both players had pretty solid games and looked good defensively.
- The Blues had four power play opportunities. Arizona killed them all, but they were playing with fire.
- The ending is crazy, but Raanta saved the team more than a few times. He was great on the penalty kill, and the momentum could have been radically different if he let the Blues score during either the first or second period.
- The Blues outshot the Coyotes 18-5 in the final period and basically had a five-minute power play. It was a rough ending, but the Coyotes played a good game regardless.
- Christian Dvorak led the Coyotes forwards by playing 19:45, Tyler Pitlick was next highest with 17:59. He also had a goal and an assist giving him six points in his past three games.
- The Coyotes won only 39% of the faceoffs. Faceoffs have been inconsistent this season, but the Blues scoring three with an extra attacker makes a lot more sense if they’re winning every draw.
- Antti Raanta – 43 saves on 40 shots
- Conor Garland – Goal and an assist
- Mike Hoffman – 2 goals
The Coyotes are going to
play the Minnesota Wild, go back to Arizona, stay in St. Louis as their games from the end of March have been rescheduled due to Covid protocols with the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche.