Coyotes Corner: Four Games, Seven Points, & A Win For Karel Vejmelka

Break up the Arizona Coyotes! This week’s edition of Coyotes Corner is navigating uncharted territory, as the Yotes earned at least one point in every game this past week, compiling a 3-0-1 record with wins over the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings. The team has won two straight, and its only blemish was a 5-4 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The week was rewarding, but it didn’t come easy. Saturday’s overtime win against Detroit, an evening in which the Coyotes held their Hockey Fights Cancer night, was especially emotional.

Arizona Coyotes Corner Jakob Chychrun & Clayton Keller

It really was a massive turnaround for Arizona, as it was able to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season, and it was the team’s goalies that stole the show. Both Scott Wedgewood and Karel Vejmelka led the way for the Coyotes, with the latter earning his first NHL victory in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win over the Kings.

Arizona actually leapfrogged the Ottawa Senators in the overall league standings after Sunday’s win, though to be fair the Coyotes have played four more games. They remain in last place in the Central Division, but the week was still a remarkable turnaround for a team that started the season 0-10-1.

Central Division Standings (As of 11/22/2021)

TeamRecordPoints
Minnesota Wild11-6-123
Winnipeg Jets9-4-422
St. Louis Blues9-6-220
Nashville Predators9-7-119
Colorado Avalanche8-5-117
Dallas Stars7-7-216
Chicago Blackhawks6-10-214
Arizona Coyotes4-13-210

The Week That Was

Coyotes at Blues (Nov. 16, 3-2 Win)

The Coyotes had lost three straight games since recording their first win of the season on Nov. 6, but managed to leave St. Louis with a 3-2 win thanks to Barrett Hayton’s first-ever multiple-goal game in the NHL. Hayton scored twice, including the tie-breaking, game-winning goal with just over six minutes left in the third period, to help Arizona earn its first win in 10 days. Wedgewood was phenomenal, stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced.

What Went Right
Hayton had himself a game. In addition to his two goals he won 50 percent of his faceoffs (10-for-20), and has really started to assert himself as one of the team’s top centers. Perhaps even more significant, the Coyotes converted on both of their power-play opportunities, and never trailed in the game.

Wedgewood earned his second win with Arizona after turning aside all but two of the Blues’ 36 shots, and defenseman Kyle Capobianco notched his first goal of the season.

What Went Wrong
Not a whole lot, to be honest. The Coyotes converted on all of their power-play opportunities, went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, and blocked 12 shots (compared to the Blues’ eight). To get nit-picky, they were handily outshot by St. Louis (36-23), and won 48 percent of their faceoffs.

Top Coyotes Performers
Both Hayton and Wedgewood, who led the team to victory.

Key Takeaway
The win was a nice road victory for the Coyotes, who lost 7-4 at home to the Blues earlier this season. Arizona is resiliant, and has shown that on multiple occasions this season.

Coyotes vs. Blue Jackets (Nov. 18, 5-4 Shootout Loss)
The Coyotes and Blue Jackets played a wild one last Thursday, and ultimately Columbus earned the win in a back-and-forth game after prevailing in the seventh round of a shootout. The second period featured four goals in less than three minutes (two by each team), and both teams subsequently scored one more in the third before going scoreless in overtime.

What Went Right
Stop us if you’ve heard this before — Wedgewood. The 29-year-old stopped 42 of the 46 shots he faced, not to mention his three saves in the shootout (Boone Jenner missed the net). Forward Ryan Dzingel’s return from an injury helped spark the team’s offense, and four different Coyotes scored in the loss.

Scott Wedgewood Arizona Coyotes
Scott Wedgewood played well against the Blackhawks last week. (Patrick Brown / The Hockey Writers)

What Went Wrong
Turnovers. Arizona had 13 giveaways in the game, and Columbus managed to cash in on its fair share of those.The Coyotes’ penalty kill also took a step back after they managed to kill just two of four penalties. Shot disparity was also an issue, yet again, as the Yotes were outshot 46-29.

Top Coyotes Performer
Wedgewood, who finished with 42 saves. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun also seemingly started to find his groove after struggling earlier in the season, as he recorded one goal and one assist during his team-leading 30:53 time on ice.

Key Takeaway
Hey, look at that scoring! After struggling to find the back of the net for most of the season, the Coyotes managed to score four against the Blue Jackets and salvage a point. Much like the game against St. Louis, it was a remarkable turnaround from when the teams first faced each other this season — An 8-2 Columbus win on Oct. 14.

Coyotes vs. Red Wings (Nov. 20, 2-1 Overtime Win)
The Coyotes welcomed the Red Wings to town on Saturday, and Arizona honored its Senior Director of Amateur Hockey Development, Matt Shott, during its Hockey Fights Cancer night. Shott, who got to meet childhood idol Steve Yzerman via Zoom prior to the game, is battling cancer, and was celebrated before the game.

The game itself was surprisingly dull, at least until Ryan Dzingel tied it at one with just over six minutes left in the third period. Clayton Keller scored an emotional game-winner just 25 seconds into overtime, and just like that, Arizona rallied for an unforgettable 2-1 win.

What Went Right
Dzingel continued to provide an offensive spark with his energy, but it was Keller who stole the show. He was visibly emotional following his game-winning overtime goal, and shared after the game that his grandfather had previously passed away from cancer. It was a touching moment, and not easy for the 23-year-old to talk about afterwards.

What Went Wrong
The Coyotes had several defensive breakdowns, and were aided by the post on multiple occasions. Even so, their penalty kill was 2-for-2, and the shots on goal margin was relatively close, but Detroit had a slight edge 34-29.

Top Coyotes Performer
Keller and Wedgewood, who put the team on their back to secure the win.

Key Takeaway
Sure, the Red Wings are slumping after a long road trip, but the Coyotes still managed to shut down a team with established scoring threads such as Dylan Larkin (who scored Detroit’s only goal), Tyler Bertuzzi, and Lucas Raymond. It was a gutty win.

Coyotes at Kings (Nov. 21, 2-1 Overtime Win)
Fans could be forgiven if they mistook Sunday’s box score as a duplicate from the night before, considering the game bore a striking resemblance to Saturday’s win over the Red Wings. And even though the goalie was different, as Karel Vejmelka got the nod, the results were strikingly familiar after Kyle Capobianco scored the game-winning goal in overtime to secure the Coyotes’ second consecutive win.

Vejmelka tied his career-best with 37 saves, and earned his first career NHL win.

What Went Right
Different chapter, same story. The team again benefitted from stellar goalie play (with a little help from the posts), and used timely scoring to again tie the game in the third period before ultimately winning in the extra frame. The team won just 40 percent of its faceoffs, but Hayton again excelled, winning eight of his 14 draws.

Barrett Hayton Arizona Coyotes
Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What Went Wrong
The shot disparity was yet again fairly large, as the Kings outshot the Coyotes 38-27. Add to it that the Kings hit several posts, and Arizona was lucky to get out of L.A. with its second straight victory.

Top Coyotes Performer
Hands down Vejmelka, who single-handedly kept the Coyotes in the game.

Key Takeaway
It’s taken 19 games, but the Coyotes have finally shown a little swagger. Perhaps it’s their continued acclimation to coach André Tourigny’s new system, or the fact that players are starting to get healthy again, but Arizona has put together a string of four-straight games with at least one point, and that truly seemed unfathomable just a few weeks ago.

Looking Ahead

Upcoming Games
Wednesday, Nov. 24 vs. Edmonton
Buckle up for this one, as the high-flying Edmonton Oilers arrive in the desert for the second time this season, this after a 5-1 win over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Oct. 21. Edmonton boasts the top-two scorers in the league with Leon Draisaitl (35) and Connor McDavid (32) first and second in the league, respectively. In addition, Draisaitl is first in the league with 18 goals, while McDavid’s 12 put him fifth.

For the sake of comparison, Draisaitl has more goals (18) than the Coyotes’ scoring leader, Shayne Gostisbehere, has points (14).

Edmonton Oilers Celebrate
The high-flying Edmonton Oilers return to The Valley on Wednesday. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Saturday, Nov. 27 vs. Dallas
This marks the first meeting between the Dallas Stars and Coyotes this season, and the Stars are led by defenseman Miro Heiskanen, whose 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) are the most on the team. Forward Jamie Benn’s six goals are tops, and two of those have come on the power play.

Quotables

“I think cancer has touched everybody. My best friend has had cancer for a long time, and my mother-in-law had cancer. Everybody has somebody close to them. I think a night like that, you for sure think of those people, and you think of people who have touched you and have been important for you in your life. It’s good to get a win like that and have special thoughts for those people.”
– Coyotes coach André Tourigny on the what team’s 2-1 win over Detroit meant on an emotional night.

“I had to wait for my first win in the NHL, so it was a big experience for me. It’s a big night. I made a couple good saves that my team needed sometimes, and it’s just about playing my best,” Vejmelka said.
Vejmelka after notching his first NHL win on Sunday.

On The Hockey Twittersphere

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