When the Coyotes took on the Columbus Blue Jackets last night at Gila River Arena, the result definitely didn’t match the effort or performance of Arizona. Both teams were looking to capitalize on the last game before the All-Star break. Arizona had a five-game point streak rolling and Columbus had just left Las Vegas with a 6-3 loss.
When the Coyotes last played the Blue Jackets in early December, the game ended with a 1-0 loss for the team. This game also ended in a one-goal loss, but the Coyotes are continuing to improve and arguably play their best hockey this season despite illness and injuries making its way throughout the team. And while no one on the bench will be celebrating the score, certain players are shining as they glide to the second half of the season.
Notable Players of the Game
Brendan Perlini: Last night Perlini played in his 100th NHL game and as of late has been a focal point and goal scorer for this team. His goal in the middle of the third period to tie the game extended his streak to four goals in his past four games. Along with his recent hot streak, his skill and speed on the puck are too much to not have Tocchet putting him out on the first line.
Jakob Chychrun: Chychrun missed the first 29 games of the season and came back with an even better performance than his rookie year. He always says that he loves getting up into the rush as a defenseman, and he is really utilizing that to fiintoto Coach Tocchet’s style of play. Last night proved that point even further as the 19-year-old continued to be aggressive and appears to effortlessly transition between offensive plays and marking his opponents. Chychrun and Schenn led the teams with six hits apiece in last night’s game.
Antti Raanta: The goalie matchup was the biggest hype going into the game. Many questioned whether Raanta’s performance would continue to remain stellar, and those questions were answered as Raanta kept the Coyotes in the game. Antti Raanta went head to head against perhaps the best goalie in the league who had 38 saves, Sergei Bobrovsky. Raanta made a number of exceptional saves but also had a lot of help from his defenseman as the Blue Jackets barely had any decent scoring chances until their strong start in the second period. As Raanta’s confidence continues to rise, he further proves that he’s ready to be a starting goalie for the long run.
1-0 Blue Jackets: (Wennberg) Niklas Hjalmmarsson was sent to the box for a tripping call less than a minute into the third period. Despite having the worst power play in the league, The Blue Jackets found a way to score. Jones took a shot from the blue line and Wennberg was able to deflect it in.
1-1 Tie: (Perlini) Anderson found himself in the box after an interference call against Richard Panik. The Arizona Power Play went to work and Stepan and Dvorak got the assists when Perlini buried a loose puck in the crease.
2-1 Blue Jackets: With 3:03 left in regulation, a missed assignment allowed for Atkinson (who missed the previous 11 games due to injury) to find himself back door and found the back of the net behind Raanta.
Alex Goligoski did not play due to illness and ended his streak of 213 consecutive games played, and Brad Richardson and Jason Demers both left the bench after suffering upper body injuries in different incidents late in the game.
This was the last game before the All-Star Game in Tampa Bay where defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will represent the Coyotes with the Pacific Division. The regular season will start up again when the Coyotes take on the Stars at home on February 1st.