Riding high after one of their best wins of the season, the Arizona Coyotes will look to keep up the momentum Tuesday night when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning to open a five-game homestand in Tempe, Ariz.
The Coyotes took care of business in the Nevada desert Saturday night, forging their first shutout this season while taking down the reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights 2-0.
In a defensive-oriented matchup, Arizona goaltender Connor Ingram recorded 34 saves and Clayton Keller scored the game-winner with just over nine minutes left. Lawson Crouse’s empty-net tally put the game away.
“I think I saw everything today, which is huge in this league,” said Ingram, whose most recent shutout before Saturday came against the Lightning on Feb. 15, a 1-0 shootout win. “If you see it most of the time, you’re going to stop it. (Defense) did a good job of boxing guys out and blocking pucks I didn’t see, so huge props to them.”
Not surprisingly, coach Andre Tourigny was impressed by his club’s overall play but was realistic in his expectations of the Coyotes, whose victory broke a three-game losing skid and left Arizona 5-5-2 in the season’s first full month.
Tourigny believes the signs of more consistently good play are there.
“It’s a Stanley Cup champion team on the other side,” Tourigny said of Vegas. “The way we played defensively, the way we managed the puck, the way we managed our game, that’s what we’ve been begging for for a while. That’s what we’re capable of.”
The Coyotes announced on Sunday that they had reassigned forward Jan Jenik to AHL Tucson, likely freeing up a roster spot for either forward Jack McBain or defenseman Travis Dermott.
In Denver on Monday night, the Lightning took part in a 2022 Stanley Cup Final rematch and the Colorado Avalanche emerged with a 4-1 win.
Anthony Cirelli scored his third goal on a breakaway for Tampa Bay, but Colorado backstop Alexandar Georgiev made 37 saves to drop the Lightning’s record to 6-5-2 this month. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy took his first loss In two games since returning from back surgery.
“We just didn’t have it tonight. That rarely happens,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose squad is 1-1-0 heading to the finale of the road trip. “Let’s see if we can regroup (Tuesday). In the end, this is a three-game road trip, and we’ve got to come away with more points than games played.”
The Lightning were coming off arguably their best performance of the season, an 8-2 thrashing of the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday.
In that one, Vasilevskiy made his season debut and stopped 22 shots for the win. Right winger Nikita Kucherov notched a career-high six points (two goals, four assists) while Brayden Point had five points (hat trick, two assists).
Kucherov, who holds a six-game point streak, matched defenseman Doug Crossman’s Lightning records for total points (six) and power-play points (four) in a game, set on Nov. 7, 1992.
Tampa Bay became the first club in NHL history to score at least eight goals on 14 or fewer shots in a victory. The Lightning’s 57.1 percent shooting was the highest registered since the NHL began keeping the stat in 1959-60.
The offense dried up in Denver, though.
“I think the game was there for the taking right from the beginning, and I just think we didn’t pounce on that,” Lightning forward Brandon Hagel said, according to NHL.com. “I didn’t think we were executing to the way we know how to do. We’re able to get one with 40 seconds left (in the second), and then in the third we just couldn’t find a way.”