Coyotes strive to build on early success in visit to Rangers

While the Arizona Coyotes spent Saturday enjoying their resilience from a successful season opener, the New York Rangers were unable to replicate everything they did well in their opening game under new coach Peter Laviolette.

After opening the season by beating the New Jersey Devils, the Coyotes will attempt to win their first two games of a season for the first time since 2015-16 when they visit the Rangers, who’ll hope to improve defensively in their home opener on Monday night.

Arizona is opening the season with a four-game road trip before hosting Anaheim in its home opener Saturday. The Coyotes began the trip by scoring the first two goals and giving up three straight before getting a 4-3 victory in a shootout over the Devils on Friday.

Nick Schmaltz scored the tying goal on a power play for 3-3 in the third after Matt Dumba and Sean Durzi scored. Schmaltz also scored in the shootout along with Nick Bjugstad, while goalie Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves and two more in the shootout.

“We had urgency, we had pace, and if we want to be successful, we need to play at a pace where we will disturb the timing of our opponent,” Phoenix coach Andre Tourigny said. “That is not easy. That’s a lot of work, that’s a lot of energy night in and night out, but that’s what we have to do. The guys were ready right from the beginning.”

Among those who were ready was center Logan Cooley, whose NHL debut saw the 2022 first-round pick get two assists. Clayton Keller also set up two goals after finishing with a career-high 49 assists and 86 points last season.

The Rangers are returning home for two games before starting a five-game West Coast trip and are coming back after mixed results in Buffalo and Columbus.

New York opened the Laviolette era with a dominating 5-1 win in Buffalo on Thursday when Chris Kreider scored twice along with multi-point nights from Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.

The Rangers then produced a disappointing follow-up by taking a 5-3 loss in Columbus on Saturday. New York had goals by Kreider and Zibanejad disallowed due to offsides calls and gave up a hat trick to Columbus captain Boone Jenner, who capitalized on New York’s defensive struggles to score twice on deflections and once on a rebound.

“The first game, we liked our game a lot,” New York captain Jacob Trouba said. “Today I thought you saw some things you didn’t like as much that we can clean up and focus on and continue to build our game. It’s still, I won’t say new, but we’re still learning this a little bit and kind of getting a feel for it. You’re going to get into different scenarios and situations, and we’ll get more and more comfortable as we go.”

The Rangers were without defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Zac Jones was elevated to the active roster and could be on New York’s defense again if Lindgren sits again.

Erik Gustafsson scored 50 seconds in on Saturday before Will Cuylle and Kreider tallied in the third, when the Rangers outshot Columbus 17-2. Overall, the Rangers outshot Columbus 42-21 but blocked 12 shots after blocking 23 in their season opener.

The Rangers have won four straight meetings against the Coyotes and are 13-1-2 in the past 16 meetings.