Arizona Coyotes return from bye refreshed in win over Wild
Jack McBain knew it wouldn’t be the prettiest goal, but he had to do everything in his will to send the puck after Christian Fischer grabbed a turnover from the Minnesota Wild.
McBain went off to the races from the Arizona Coyotes’ zone and finished off with a slick backhand to beat out Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period.
His goal was not only the game-winner in Monday’s 3-2 win at Mullett Arena, but came against the initial team that drafted him in 2018. McBain chose not to sign with the Wild following the end of his college career and was traded to the Coyotes last season.
“It’s always nice, they’re a great organization there,” McBain said. “There’s never any hard feelings, but it’s definitely nice to get a win against them.”
The Coyotes (17-28-6) returned from the bye week refreshed and applied early pressure to the Wild (27-18-4) in the first period. Kirill Kaprizov and Jonas Brodin gave the Wild leads in both the second and third period, but it was Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun who tied with a pair of goals.
The Coyotes went 1-for-6 on the power play, including Chychrun’s goal in the second period.
“January leading up to the bye week was pretty crazy so the boys were definitely ready for a little break and I think we all took advantage of it and got some rest and came out tonight with a lot of energy,” Chychrun said.
Containing the wild
The Wild upped the ante in the second period and applied significant pressure to Karel Vejmelka. It didn’t take long before the Wild capped off a long shift from the top line with Kaprizov finishing off a passing play from Mats Zuccarello up front at 3:39.
Vejmelka stood tall in the remaining second period, denying Matt Boldy’s four shots. Boldy’s shot off a backdoor pass up the slot via Frederick Gaudreau was saved pointblank by Vejmelka midway through the period.
He received help from Travis Boyd when defenseman Calen Addison left the box after his penalty expired and got the puck on his stick. He sent it over to Boldy, but it was Boyd who slowed down the momentum and Vejmelka turned away the backhanded attempt.
Wired and ready
Clayton Keller arrived at 3 a.m. Arizona Time Sunday from the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fl. after his flight was delayed four hours. Keller still did his own skill work on Sunday afternoon and participated in Monday's morning skate.
In the game, Keller played a facilitator role on offense and assisted on Chychrun’s goal in the second period.
“He said his energy was good,” Coyotes head coach Andreé Tourigny said. “He did not have the opportunity we had to have eight days off. Maybe down the road at some point, we’ll need a little break.”
Exploring new options
The Coyotes brought in forward Jean-Sebastien Dea from the Tucson Roadrunners (American Hockey League) at left wing on the fourth line with McBain and Zack Kassian.
The move came after assigning rookie forward Dylan Guenther to the Seattle Thunderbirds (Western Hockey League). Guenther registered 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) over 33 games. Guenther’s four powerplay goals are tied for the second-most among all NHL rookie skaters.