I apologize for the truly awful pun but I was just really excited about this win. The Coyotes played the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Center last night, and the result seemed to be completely in Minnesota’s favor until late in the second period when Arizona completely turned the game around.
The Coyotes were coming into the game with a four-game losing streak with particularly rough games against the Dallas Stars and the L.A. Kings. The game in Minnesota would end their two-game road trip as they lost against the Winnipeg Jets in their previous game.
The Wild are still at the moment in position for a playoff spot in the second Western Conference wild-card position behind the Stars. They had just come off a big win against the Blues beating them 6-2 in St. Louis.
Arizona started off strong (as they usually do) but were unable to put anything together. After Antti Raanta made a remarkable save, the Coyotes defenders were unable to clear the puck and Eric Staal found the back of the net at 17:13 of the first period.
Minnesota went into the second period with momentum and Matt Cullen and Mike Reilly extended the Wild’s lead to 3-0 with Reilly scoring his first goal of the season.
Even though the score would tell otherwise, Arizona was never getting completely outplayed. They just had trouble creating scoring chances, but they fought back and found their structured way of playing about halfway through the second period.
Nick Cousins, who now has 9 goals and 3 assists on the season, one-timed a passed from Alex Goligoski and scored at 11:30 rallying his team and giving them the momentum they needed for the rest of the game.
Kevin Connauton, who has scored 3 goals in the last 4 games and who Coach Rick Tocchet said has really found his game when he stops thinking too hard and just plays hockey, scored at 8:02 in the third period. With the way the Coyotes were playing, it seemed likely they would find a way to score again.
Raanta was pulled with less than two minutes left in regulation, and the Coyotes kept in on their side. Derek Stepan fed the puck right across the crease directly to Nick Cousins’ stick, and he one-timed it in with 18.3 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Arizona was chasing the puck for most of overtime as Minnesota won the starting face off. Clayton Keller clearly was trying to make something happen and stayed on the ice longer than usual. It was Connauton, who rarely finds himself playing in overtime, who started the rush. He made a great pass to Perlini who put it right to Keller’s stick, and Keller got a look and scored. Keller has not scored a goal since the Coyotes played the Ducks on New Year’s Even but still leads the team with points. He scored with 1:05 remaining in OT.
The Coyotes ended their short road trip on a high note, and they will play the Flyers at home this Saturday at 6:00 PM. Anthony Duclair will make his first return to Arizona with Chicago when the Coyotes play the Blackhawks at home on Tuesday, Feb. 12.