Arizona Coyotes’ 7 to 3 Win Over Tampa Bay Lightning Rekindles Hope

Arizona Coyotes, Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images )
Arizona Coyotes, Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images ) /

The Arizona Coyotes’ impressive win against the powerful Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night brought a glimmer of playoff hope to the Coyotes’ faithful. 

Sure it was only one win, but the fans that witnessed the Coyotes’ victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning had some dwindling faith restored by the end of the game. It was equal parts shocking and amazingly wonderful to see the Desert Dogs claim victory over the mighty Lightning, scoring 7 goals in an impressive display of offensive firepower. It normally takes the ‘Yotes 3 or 4 games to score that many goals, but this was not a normal night.

Clayton Keller awoke from his funk and scored 2 goals and an assist, and Conor Garland scored 2 goals and a helper too! Carl Soderberg, Brad Richardson, and Derek Stepan each scored goals, and Taylor Hall got two more points on two assists. The Coyotes’ 7 goals were the first time they scored that many since last season, also against the Lightning but in Tampa of all places.

The win over the Lightning was a wonderful respite from the reality of the challenges the Coyotes face. There are now 17 games remaining for the ‘Yotes in the regular season, and that’s not a lot of time. Let’s take a quick look at the wild card situation as of today.

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If the Coyotes (70 points) “won out,” they would end their regular season with 104 points. The Calgary Flames (70 points), with two games in hand, would have 108 points if they won all of their remaining games. The Flames and Coyotes go head-to-head on March 6 in Alberta.

The Winnipeg Jets (69 points), have one game in hand on the ‘Yotes and would have 105 points if they won out, but they play the Coyotes twice more, including the last game of the season.

Both the Nashville Predators (68 points) and Minnesota Wild (65 points) have 4 games in hand on the ‘Yotes. If Nashville won all their remaining games, they’d end the season with 110 points, while the Wild would only have 107. The Coyotes play the Predators at home on March 28 but don’t play the Wild again.

Of course no team is going to win all their remaining games, but it is interesting to see how close these teams are as the regular season winds down. If the Coyotes won 12 of their remaining 17, for example, they would have 94 points at the end of the season. Is that enough to gain a playoff spot? Only time will tell.

Their fate will also be determined by their competitors’ results, including those ever so precious games in hand.

In essence, the Coyotes playoff hopes may be fleeting at best, but slim hopes are better than none at this juncture. They have an uphill climb for sure, but are still clinging to a wild card spot. Every day will be an adventure as the points fluctuate and teams jockey for position and the ultimate right to compete in the post season.

Playoff hockey is always fun to watch, but it will be bittersweet if the Coyotes don’t make it to the “second season.” Here’s hoping the dream continues on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. Let’s go Coyotes!