GLENDALE, Ariz. — It had been said, time and again, that the Arizona Coyotes being without their starting goaltender for their 1-11-1 month of October was doing them no favors.
So it was only appropriate that the Coyotes (2-12-1) earned their first home win of the 2017-18 season on Saturday night with Antti Raanta back in net for the second straight game.
Arizona’s goalie made 36 saves in the 2-1 shootout win, a win that didn’t come without its stressful moments for the fans at Gila River Arena.
Raanta was the focal point of one of those moments.
“A little scary in overtime when [Raanta] went for a journey,” forward Brad Richardson said. “But all in all, he played a hell of a game.”
With a loose puck traveling into the Coyotes zone, Raanta ranged far out of his net to the wall to try to knock the puck back across the blue line. He was met with force by Carolina’s Derek Ryan, and Raanta went to the ground. The play was blown dead.
“It was a quick play so I just tried to get the puck out of our zone,” Raanta said. “I don’t even know where the puck went after that. It was a good thing the refs pulled the whistle there.”
Richardson’s eyewitness account was probably similar to that of the fans:
“I was shocked, yeah,” he said. “What the heck’s he doing?! But no, he played real solid. I’m glad he got up. It looked a little scary for a second, so I’m glad he’s okay.”
Indeed, after a brief discussion with the trainer, Raanta was okay. His performance in net? Far better than okay.
The scare with Raanta aside, 19 other Coyotes players dressed on Saturday night as well. One of them, Clayton Keller, scored — again — for his 10th goal of the season.
This one came on a stellar feed by Richardson, setting up the game’s first goal to make it 1-0 in the second period.
Later, Keller scored in the shootout while batting leadoff. He deked past Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling, knocking in one of two shootout goals for the Coyotes.
The second shootout goal was on a five-hole shot from Derek Stepan.
So, despite what looked like a here-we-go-again situation when Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal scored with 2:25 to go in regulation, the Coyotes found a way to survive overtime and win the shootout.
“We’ve got some work in progress, but I thought the guys, for the most part, did a nice job,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’ve just got to learn at the end to make the right play at the right time.
“I’m happy we won, I’ll put it that way.”
–For the second game in a row, the top line that had been Max Domi, Stepan and Keller was split up with Brendan Perlini on the top line and Max Domi on the second line.
–Forward Anthony Duclair was scratched for the third time in four games. You can read more about the team’s effort to get Duclair playing a more “complete” game here.
–The scoreless first period for both Arizona and Carolina made for only the second time this season that a Coyotes game has been scoreless through 20 minutes.
Saturday’s game was the second of just two in this homestand for Arizona, who will now travel back east once again. They face the Washington Capitals on Monday before heading to Pittsburgh to battle the Penguins in the second game of a back-to-back.
On Thursday, the Coyotes will be in St. Louis before coming back home to play the Jets in Glendale on Saturday.