The Arizona Coyotes (7-3-1, 15 points) played the final contest of their 9-day, 4 game eastern trip against the very talented and streaking Buffalo Sabres (9-2-2, 20 points) on Monday night.
The Coyotes beat Jack Eichel (7 goals, 10 assists) and company in a shootout after the game remained tied at 2 at the conclusion of OT. Yotes’ Nick Schmaltz was the only player on either team to light the lamp in the shootout. The Sabres had been undefeated at home (5-0) until the Coyotes ended that streak on Monday.
In the past two games, the “scratchin’ and clawin’” Arizona Coyotes have needed to withstand early onslaughts by the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres in the first period in order to be in positions to win those games at the end.
Both teams used an aggressive attacking style and solid forechecking to force the Coyote’s back on their heels from the start, causing the team, especially the depleted defensive corps, to regain their composure and make adjustments on the fly.
Adjust they did, and the resilient, “bend but don’t break” Arizona Coyotes achieved impressive back to back wins at the expense of two Eastern Conference opponents. Their collective ability to skate through the neutral zone and into the “O” zone in waves has enabled the Coyotes to put sustained pressure on their opponents. The ‘Yotes are undeniably one of the fittest teams in the NHL despite having to juggle their defensive pairings due to injuries to a few of their defensive players.
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The next challenge for the desert dogs involves a visit by the Montreal Canadiens (5-4-2) and ex-Coyote Max Domi (3 goals, 7 assists) and Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin (5 goals and 5 assists each) to the Gila River Arena on Wednesday night for a 7:00 p.m. game.
Avoiding a letdown on home ice will be essential to achieving success for the Coyotes as they return to Glendale. Regardless of the results of the just-completed road trip, a focus on the task at hand is critical from the initial face-off. Let’s go Coyotes!