3 Takeaways From the Coyotes’ 3-1 Win Over the Vegas Golden Knights

The first time the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights met at Gila River Arena this season, back on Dec. 3, the Knights scored six unanswered goals to leave The Valley with a 7-1 victory.

Nearly three months later, it was a much different story.

Related: 3 Takeaways From the Coyotes’ 3-2 Loss to the Kings

The Coyotes used timely scoring, along with yet another stellar effort from goalie Scott Wedgewood, to beat the Golden Knights 3-1 on Friday night in Glendale. Nick Schmaltz scored twice, and now has points in three straight games, while Wedgewood made a career-high 43 saves en route to the team’s 14th win of the season.

Here’s what we learned from Friday’s win over Vegas.

Wedgewood Dazzles, Schmaltz Comes Up Big Again

The game was full of back-and-forth action, along with quality scoring chances across the board. Wedgewood stood tall yet again to earn his third win in his last four starts, and his lowest save percentage (SV%) out of those wins was .950, which he posted in a 38-save performance against the Colorado Avalanche.

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Since Jan. 28, Wedgewood’s .952 SV% leads the entire NHL, and was key down the stretch on Friday as Vegas pressed for the equalizer.

“Obviously when we scored in the third, we sat back a little bit, which we didn’t want, but probably human reaction,” coach André Tourigny said after the game. “The desire to win was there, and we became a little bit too passive.”

Scott Wedgewood Arizona Coyotes
Scott Wedgewood leads the NHL in save percentage since Jan. 28, and made 43 stops on Friday. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Though Vegas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second period on a William Carrier goal, Shayne Gostisbehere tied it up just a little over three minutes later, one-timing a pass from Jakob Chychrun past Golden Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit. It was the defenseman’s ninth goal of the season, and his 250th career point.

Then Schmaltz stepped up.

The 26-year-old gave Arizona the lead 3:16 into the third after redirecting Anton Strålman’s shot from the point past Brossoit, and added an empty-netter to ice the game with 31 seconds left. He continues to click on the Coyotes’ top line with Clayton Keller and Travis Boyd. Keller assisted on the last goal of the game — his 150th career assist — and also extended his point streak to six games.

Schmaltz now has 18 points in his last 16 games.

“I talked a lot in the last five minutes about mental intensity, and that’s Schmaltzy,” Tourigny said. “Right now he’s tuned in, he’s all in mentally, and he’s such a smart hockey player, and he has good sense. He’s always one play ahead.

“When he has that mental urgency, you see the result right now, he’s really good.”

Dysin Mayo Impresses After Signing Contract Extension

Defenseman Dysin Mayo, who has averaged 20:45 of ice time throughout this season, signed a three-year, $950,000 AAV extension earlier Friday, and in typical fashion, ate up 20:24 time on ice against the Golden Knights. The 25-year-old, who had not played in the NHL until this season, has three goals and three assists, and has been a key part of Arizona’s blue line.

Mayo said after Friday’s game that he had hoped to simply prove that he belonged in the NHL. 43 games later, he’s left little doubt.

Dysin Mayo Arizona Coyotes
Dysin Mayo signed a three-year contract extension earlier on Friday. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“My first two games, I think, were average to be honest, and then all of a sudden the third game, I believe it was against Washington, coach put me on the top line with Chychrun, and I think I had 20+ minutes that game,” Mayo said. “I think that clicked for me there, where I felt like I belonged, so it was nice of the coaches to show that confidence in me early on.”

Prior to this season, Mayo had played exclusively in the American Hockey League (AHL) since the 2017-18 season, and logged 258 career AHL games before getting his shot in Arizona. As far as Tourigny is concerned, the defenseman is in The Valley to stay.

“Mayo mentally is unbelievable,” Tourigny said. “Working is not enough in this league — it’s the best league in the world, and you have 700 players that play in this league every year, it’s not easy. You need to have all your focus on being urgent and prepared, and Dysin is exactly the kind of culture we want to have. Really happy he is signed, great job by Bill [Armstrong] and his team.

“So, coach is happy.”

Nick Ritchie Makes His Coyotes Debut

Newly acquired forward Nick Ritchie made his debut with the Coyotes on Friday, playing alongside Barrett Hayton and Loui Eriksson on the third line. The 26-year-old logged 11:14 of ice time while recording two shots on goal, and looked relatively sharp after not having played an NHL game since Jan. 12, ironically against Arizona.

He introduced himself to the 11,934 in attendance with a bang, taking a penalty for interference just 1:47 into the game. The Coyotes were no worse for the wear, however, killing off the first period penalty.

Ritchie said after the game he expects to fit in well in the desert, considering the Coyotes’ reputation around the league as a hard-working, tough-nosed club.

Nick Ritchie Arizona Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Ritchie addresses the media after the Coyotes’ 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 25, 2022. (Patrick Brown / The Hockey Writers)

“I think you saw how hard this team works, and I think just watching games before, catching an Arizona game earlier in the year, they’ve always been a team that works hard, and it showed tonight,” Ritchie said. “I think obviously, some big saves by our goalie, and we got two points.”

Tourigny, who was open earlier this week about the Coyotes’ desire to acquire Ritchie this past offseason, said he’s excited for what Ritchie can bring to the table.

“He played a really heavy game, finished his checks,” Tourigny said. “He made good plays with the puck, had good poise in his game, and I’m really happy with what he brought.”

The Coyotes continue their six-game homestand on Sunday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 pm MST.