The Arizona Coyotes aim to ignite their offense on Thursday when they conclude their season-opening, four-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues.
The Coyotes started the trek on a high note with a 4-3 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday. They followed that up by dropping one-goal decisions to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
Arizona mustered just six shots on goal through the first two periods Tuesday and finished with 14 overall in a 1-0 setback to the Isles.
“We didn’t execute at all,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We start the game by trying to do too much. Each line has to find their own identity. … We need to put pucks on the net. We need to be a little bit simpler, we passed on too many opportunities.”
Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves versus the Islanders and has turned aside 66 of 70 shots this season.
“He was awesome. He was fantastic,” Coyotes forward Jason Zucker said of Vejmelka. “He made some unbelievable saves to keep it 1-0 throughout the game, and we have to help him out a little bit more.”
Vejmelka was strong in two of his three encounters against the Blues last season. He stopped all 33 shots he faced in a 5-0 victory on Jan. 26 and finished with 40 saves in a 6-2 win on March 7.
St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington surrendered 11 goals on 55 shots in two meetings with Arizona last season. The Stanley Cup-winning goaltender has been less generous in his first two games to start this campaign.
Binnington has turned aside 63 of 65 shots for the Blues, who have split a pair of shootouts to start the season. He went the extra mile in stopping all three shots in the bonus format to lift the Blues to a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
The Blues’ Colton Parayko has drawn rave reviews from both coach Craig Berube — as tough as that is — and defensive partner Nick Leddy for his aggressiveness in transition. The 6-foot-6, 228-pound Parayko said he’s just trying to add another wrinkle to the team’s offense.
“Just a conscious effort to get in the play as much as possible,” Parayko said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Just give the forwards another option. Just like we talked about earlier, they have done a really good job of coming back for us, and if I can be an extra outlet for them up the ice (that helps).”
The Blues’ victory over the Kraken was costly, however, as forward Pavel Buchnevich sustained an upper-body injury in the first period after being shoved into the boards by defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. Berube said Buchnevich is doubtful to play against the Coyotes.
“Right now, he’s sore, so he’s still not ready to get on the ice,” Berube said Tuesday. “Right now, it’s day-to-day. It’s all about how he feels, soreness and stuff like that. When that subsides, he can go on the ice and then we’ll advance from there.”
Brandon Saad joined Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou on the top line during Tuesday’s practice.