The Arizona Coyotes have been piling up points for nearly three weeks, and they will have another chance to extend their hot streak on Wednesday when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tempe, Ariz.
Across a six-game stretch that started before the All-Star break and extended to a 4-2 win at Nashville on Monday night, coach Andre Tourigny’s group has accumulated nine points (3-0-3).
Coyotes left winger Clayton Keller was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday after racking up three goals and four assists in three games.
The Chesterfield, Mo., native tops Arizona in both goals (21) and assists (29) in 54 games and owns a four-game point streak (three goals, six assists).
Keller, 24, said his teammates’ ability to bounce back and adjust to new situations have been key, such as Juuso Valimaki stepping up with star defenseman Jakob Chychrun scratched on Saturday in St. Louis for what the team called “trade-related” reasons.
Valimaki, another 24-year-old defenseman, posted four assists for his first career multipoint outing.
“I thought we showed a lot of resilience there,” Keller said after Arizona rallied late but lost to the Blues 5-4 in overtime. “A couple guys got in late to the game, just five minutes before warmups, so it was great to see us battle back like that.”
Against the Predators, the Coyotes again scratched the talented Chychrun, who has been the subject of much trade speculation as the March 3 deadline nears. But Lawson Crouse scored twice and Arizona — which had been 0-13-5 on the road since winning 4-0 at Carolina on Nov. 23 — left town with a 4-2 victory.
“I think it says a lot about our character,” Tourigny said. “We find a way. We’re obviously not the level of a Tampa Bay or something like that, but character-wise, you could see even in the second period, when the wind was against us, we still battled and worked really hard. So, proud of the boys.”
The Lightning claimed the teams’ first meeting 5-3 on New Year’s Eve in Tampa. They have won three straight matchups against Arizona and five of the past six. Overall, Tampa Bay is 6-1-1 in its past eight games.
Coach Jon Cooper’s squad opened its four-game road swing with a 3-1 win over the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars on Saturday. The Lightning then beat the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday in the first of back-to-back games.
The Lightning rallied in the third period at Denver to tie the contest on Vladislav Namestnikov’s fifth goal of the season. Then goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen in the second and third rounds of the shootout, after Evan Rodrigues failed to get a shot off.
Steven Stamkos scored the shootout’s only goal on the first attempt, drifting slightly right and ripping the game-deciding marker back over goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s right shoulder.
“After the All-Star break, it’s getting close to playoff time and we’re playing playoff teams,” said Lightning defenseman Cal Foote, a Denver native.
By scoring his 21st goal, Tampa Bay right winger Nikita Kucherov extended his point streak to 11 games (four goals, 12 assists).
Lightning forward Nicholas Paul (upper body) played for the first time in three games. He won 7 of 9 faceoffs, registered two shots on goal and was plus-1 over 15:31.
–Field Level Media