GLENDALE, Ariz. – Derek Stepan gathered the puck near Arizona’s blue line and flipped it toward the other end, hoping to kill a few extra seconds off Ottawa’s power play. The puck skittered off the ice and slipped through the goalie’s pads, a dump-in turned into an unexpected goal.
A little lucky? Maybe, but the Coyotes are also creating good fortune by playing hard and smart during a four-game winning streak.
Stepan scored his short-handed goal in Arizona’s three-goal first period and Antti Raanta stopped 25 shots, lifting the surging Coyotes to a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
“You earn your bounces,” Stepan said. “We had some bounces going the other way early on in the year, now they’re starting to go our way and in a few weeks, they’re going to come back the other way. Good teams find ways to win any given night regardless of the bounces.”
The Coyotes opened the season 1-4-0, shut out three times their first four games. Once Arizona started scoring, the pucks have kept finding the net.
The Coyotes chased Ottawa goalie Mike Condon with three goals on 10 shots in the first period, capped by Stepan’s short-hander. Arizona has short-handed goals in three straight games for the second time in franchise history (1985), with five in that span.
Alex Galchenyuk notched his first goal with Arizona and had an assist on Oliver Ekman Larsson’s power-play goal in the third period. Brad Richardson and Richard Panik also scored for the Coyotes, who have outscored opponents 20-4 during the four-game winning streak.
“It’s hard to score goals in this league and we’ve got a good mojo going right now,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said.
The Senators don’t.
Coming off an overtime loss at Vegas on Sunday, Ottawa was flat early while falling into a big hole. The Senators seemed to gain momentum on Alex Forementon’s first goal of the season in the second period, but Arizona scored 22 seconds later. The Senators have lost three straight.
“That was our first stinker,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “We got out-competed in the first period and that usually doesn’t happen.”
Arizona beat Tampa Bay 7-1 on Saturday and didn’t take long to keep the scoring going. Galchneyuk created a turnover by knocking away Mark Stone’s stick and slipped the puck behind Condon’s pads 4 1/2 minutes in. Richardson scored two minutes later, one-timing Michael Grabner’s pass from behind the goal.
Stepan made it 3-0 late in the first period with a tumbling puck from Arizona’s blue line that squirted through Condon’s pads and sent him to the bench, replaced by Craig Anderson.
“You give a team three goals, 90 per cent of the time you’re not coming back,” Senators centre Chris Tierney said.
Tierney nearly got Ottawa back in it a minute into the second period, getting a goal reinstated upon review after it was initially waved off for high-sticking. But then it was waved off after Arizona’s challenge for goalie interference was upheld.
Another Coyotes challenge for goalie interference did not pan out and Forementon’s goal stood, seemingly giving the Senators momentum.
Instead, Panik scored 22 seconds later, beating Anderson from between the circles.
“That was a big goal for us right there,” Galchenyuk said. “You don’t know which way it’s going to go, but we’re confident and we were able to make a statement.”