The Arizona Coyotes picked up their winning ways at home right where they left off last season as the team got their second straight win but this time against the Anaheim Ducks. There were a lot of interesting and impressive themes for the team during the game. Here are some takeaways from the win on Saturday afternoon.
Mullett Magic Is Back
The electric energy that Mullett Arena had last season didn’t fade away to begin the Coyotes’ second season at the college arena. In fact, it was just as loud as the strong sellout crowd in Tempe was cheering on good plays, booing the refs, and chanting “You suck” to Ducks goaltender Lukas Dostal all game long.
Perhaps one of the loudest moments the crowd had was when forward Logan Cooley’s name was announced for the first time in the arena during the season-opening introductions. While the rookie didn’t have any points in the game, he had some pretty good moves and chances to challenge Dostal.
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Clayton Keller’s eventual game-winning goal also sparked a roar from the crowd as the forward fired a nice wrist shot right past Dostal. It was Keller’s third goal of the season and sixth point in the five games the team has played.
It’s safe to say though that Liam O’Brien is still a fan favorite in the Valley as he was involved in numerous scrums and fights during the game that had the crowd on its feet.
The Coyotes are now an all-time 22-15-5 at Mullett Arena. It’s become a fortress for all the players on the team and a place where everyone loves playing.
The Coyotes-Ducks Rivalry Is For Real
There’s no debate that these two teams hate each other. After the past two seasons of bad blood, this game renewed it for a third.
As mentioned, O’Brien stirred the pot with a lot of his opponents. Forward Frank Vatrano, who scored the lone Ducks goal of the game, got mixed up with O’Brien and ended up taking the final penalty of the game. He now has four goals in four games to begin the season.
The biggest physical moment was when O’Brien and forward Ross Johnston decided to fight. Everyone in the crowd was standing up as the two exchanged blows. While both fared well, O’Brien was the one who skated to the dressing room and tried to excite the crowd.
The physicality was almost too much for the Coyotes as forward Michael Carcone was sent down to the ice late in the first. He went to the dressing room and didn’t return to the game. Forward Jason Zucker scored the first goal of the game but was injured as well and didn’t return. Zucker especially is a key component of the Coyotes’ forward group. If injured, it could be a really tough schedule ahead as they take on the L.A. Kings in the next two games.
The Coyotes also took a lot of careless penalties in the latter half of the game. It cost them the shutout win as Vatrano scored on a Ducks’ power play. The Ducks actually outshot the hometown team 33-27. We’ll see what head coach Andre Tourigny does to his lineup in preparation for the Oct. 24 game against the Kings.
Special Teams Were Really Good
Besides the penalty kill that saw Vatrano score for the Ducks, the power play and penalty kill unit were great last night. The first power-play unit consisting of forwards Keller, Cooley, Nick Schmaltz, Barrett Hayton, and defenseman Sean Durzi was really impressive and really tested Dostal throughout the game. The unit had chemistry and it took the Ducks quite a while to try to knock the puck out of their own zone.
Both Zucker and Keller’s goals were scored on the man advantage. It really showed that the Coyotes can score especially on the man advantage which sometimes was a struggle last season.
The penalty kill was decent as well. The only negative remark I have for the special teams is that they relied too much on goaltender Karel Vejmelka. He faced 33 shots and saved 32 of them, earning a .970 save percentage. He’s been insane to start the season and while that’s good for the team, they also can’t leave him all alone to face a barrage of shots.
Overall, though, it was a good win for the Coyotes as they won back in front of their fans in their home opener. It’s the first home opener win at Mullett Arena for the team as well. They are now on a two-game winning streak and are currently in second place in the Central Division. The Coyotes will now travel to southern California to take on the Kings on Tuesday before playing them once again on Friday back at Mullett Arena.