Arizona Coyotes Survive Bumpy Ride in 3 to 2 Win vs Colorado Avalanche

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The notoriously inconsistent Arizona Coyotes had more ups and downs than an elevator, but battled through them to beat the Colorado Avalanche in game one of a two-game set, 3 to 2.

Do you ever wonder how the Arizona Coyotes (12-10-3 27 pts) can play confident, disciplined hockey for a while and then lose their composure, playing anxiety-ridden, panicked hockey soon thereafter, only to snap back once again and play quality, gutsy hockey? Good, me too!

In a game where Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and several other Avalanche players didn’t play, the stage was set for the Yotes to take advantage of the momentum they gained from Saturday night’s 5 to 2 win against the Minnesota Wild.

Darcy Kuemper started the game and was sharp from the get go (he had to be), as the Avalanche were not shy about firing away at him. In fact, the Avs hit the post three times in the first period!

Watching the Yotes’ game against the Colorado Avalanche was like being on a roller coaster, with ups and downs and twists and turns. The first period proved that the Coyotes could be a calm, confident and disciplined bunch that were focused on their mission, and they scored two goals as a result. The Desert Dogs were able to clear the puck out of their “D” zone quickly and efficiently with mostly north-south passes, and they seemed unfrenzied and in control.

Derick Brassard scored on a first period power play after Conor Garland unintentionally shoved his face into the stick of the Avalanche’s Jacob MacDonald. Clayton Keller and Oliver Ekman-Larsson got assists on the play.

At 15:17 of the first frame, Jakob Chychrun took a shot from near the top of the Colorado blue line, and Tyler Pitlick‘s presence near the goal screened goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer‘s view, resulting in the Coyotes’ second goal.

In the second period, the Avalanche began to press more and spent considerable time in the Coyotes'”D” zone, and at 9:31, Valeri Nichushkin scored on assists by Nazem Kadri and Ryan Graves. At that point it appeared as if the Yotes had lost a bit of their composure, and had difficulty clearing the zone as effectively as before.

At 14:53 of the period, Frederik Gauthier was penalized for tripping, and Andre Burakovsky subsequently scored for the Avs to tie the game at two. At the end of the second period, the Avalanche had 19 shots, while the Coyotes could only muster 7.

At 2:22 of the third period, the game was stopped by the referee, apparently at goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper‘s request, due to an injury. Antti Raanta replaced him “cold” and saved all 16 shots he faced for the 17-plus minutes he defended the goal.

Shortly thereafter, at 4:06 into the final frame, Oliver Ekman Larsson sent a shot toward the net, and the puck apparently hit Johan Larsson’s stick up high near his hands while in flight and ricocheted past Grubauer and into the goal. Phil Kessel got the second assist on Larsson’s goal.

Agonizingly enough, and making matters worse, Jason Demers was penalized for a high stick at 17:46 of the third period (uh oh!). Thankfully, the boys were able to sustain the Avalanche’s onslaught and win the game.

While the win was nice (and important), the lingering concern is the health of goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper. Although the Coyotes have capable and proven backup ‘keepers, Kuemper is the backbone of the defense. Let’s hope he’s back soon and 100% healthy.