With the postseason just weeks away, the Arizona Coyotes are merely playing hockey for fun at this point, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun whatsoever. Monday night, they were off to the beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida to take on the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning. After a disappointing effort and loss in Florida against the Panthers on Saturday, the Coyotes were looking to rebound. With the Boston Bruins hot on their tail for the most points in the Eastern Conference the Lighting are in dire need of a win, so the Coyotes were expecting a strong force to come at them in Tampa, but what they got was the exact opposite. Here’s the recap:
The Coyotes were actually facing off against another former goalie, Louis Domingue. Louis was part of a trade that sent him to Tampa Bay in exchange for Michael Leighton and Tye McGinn, so it was a bitter-sweet game for Louis and the Yotes. Antti Raanta, the starter for the Coyotes in Tampa, and Derek Stepan also got to reunite with some old teammates from their days with the New York Rangers as they caught up with Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. A bitter-sweet moment indeed. The Lightning would also be without their franchise player Steven Stamkos.
The game started off relatively slow as the first period was scoreless; a goalie battle between Raanta and Domingue. It wasn’t until the 2nd period where rookie defenseman Trevor Murphy slapped one off a weird angle, but it somehow found its way into the net for his first NHL career goal, along with a 1-0 Coyotes lead. The Coyotes would go on the power play 7 minutes later where defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored his 3rd goal of the season for a 2-0 Coyotes lead.
The Coyotes seemed to have the Lightning on their heels as Lightning head coach John Cooper stated in the 2nd intermission report that they were playing “sloppy.” The start of the 3rd period, things started to shift a little, but not until the late 3rd period. About half way through the 3rd period, Coyotes’ forward Dylan Strome skated into the zone and centered one to Brendan Perlini who one-timed the puck into the net for a 3-0 Coyotes lead, but the goal was waved off by the officials for ‘Incidental Contact with the Goalie’ from Nick Cousins, but the Coyotes challenged the call and the replay revealed that Nick Cousins never even made contact with Domingue so the call on the ice was overturned and the Coyotes had a confirmed 3-0 lead over the ‘Beasts in the East’.
Despite the absence of Steven Stamkos, the Lightning’s top player and Art Ross candidate, Nikita Kucherov, scored his 38th goal of the season to make it a 3-1 game. The Lightning would have to pull Domingue, but Clayton Keller would eventually put it into the empty net to make it a 4-1 Coyotes lead, which would be the final score of the game. Lightning fans were not happy with their teams’ effort as they ‘booed’ them off the ice.
The Coyotes dominated the Lightning, but what makes this game special, besides the player reunions, was the new rookie record set by Clayton Keller as he now leads the franchise in rookie goals as he passes Peter Meuller with 23 goals on the season as a rookie. Dylan Strome seems to be finding his game more and more as he plays more on an NHL level, which is great progress. Antti Raanta now ranks 7th among all goalies in the league with a 2.34 goals against average and 5th in save percentage with a .927 save percentage. The Coyotes are still on the road as they are heading to “Vegas baby!” to take on the Pacific Division leaders, the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night.
More stories you might like