Concern was visible in Arizona Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett’s demeanour. His words before Saturday’s home game against the New York Islanders were measured and his body language suggested a man with a heavy burden.
It was obvious the reality of a nine-game losing streak weighed heavily on his shoulders. At moments during his conference with the media, Tippett forced a smile or two and tried to remain optimistic. At this point, the only option is to remain positive, considering Arizona has the second-worst record in the NHL.
If Tippett’s words were calculated, the Coyotes responded, in their home game against the New York Islanders, with energy and purpose.
Three Points In Last Two Games
With a 2-1 shootout win over the Islanders before 12,380 fans, the Coyotes picked up three points in their last two games. Those are the first back-to-back points since Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. The victory also snapped the nine-game losing streak.
Now, the Coyotes go into their mandatory bye week and cannot practice until this Thursday at 4 p.m., local time. For a team desperate to find a winning mentality, their break, dictated by the NHL, does not come at the right moment.
“It’s nice to get a few points, and get some momentum,” forward Brandan Perlini told The Hockey Writers. “We want to keep going but have the break. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Tippett responded harshly to the new NHL schedule. Coupled with the World Cup of Hockey in September, and a mandatory break for each team within their schedule, Tippett said the schedule was uneven and constructed poorly.
“Now, we can’t practice, and when we come back from the break, we’ll have five games in seven days,” he lamented. “The schedule doesn’t seem fair.”
Domingue Strong in Goal
Against the Islanders, goalkeeper Louis Domingue showed signs of brilliance and foolishness. As a principal contributor to the Islanders’ lone goal, Domingue clearly redeemed himself in the overtime.
Late in the second period, with the game scoreless, Domingue attempted to clear the puck through the slot. That effort was intercepted by Johnny Boychuk, whose subsequent shot was tipped in by Alan Quine at 15:35.
That 1-0 deficient remained until Brendan Perlini redirected a Connor Murphy shot from the right point through the five-hole of Islanders’ goalie Thomas Greiss, to tie the score at 14:05 of the final period. Shootout goals from Anthony Duclair and Radim Vrbata, his NHL record 44th career SO tally, iced the win for the Coyotes.
In overtime, Domingue excelled with several brilliant stops and turned away the Islanders at every turn.
“I get excited in overtime as do the fans,” Dominique said. “(The Islanders) put a few pucks on net and I thought the defense in front of me was very good. They blocked shots and cleared the puck consistently. Yeah, I admit I got lucky when a few of their shots hit the post.”
For now, the Coyotes will have to settle for three points in the final two games before their break. On the other side, they return with back-to-back home games against the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks, followed by a three-game road trip to Edmonton, Winnipeg and Minnesota.
Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and covered the Arizona Coyotes.