Coyotes start 4-game trip in Columbus
The Arizona Coyotes look to shake the memory of seeing a fast start undone by four unanswered goals when they open a four-game trek against the host Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
"(The) first seven or eight minutes, I think was our best hockey of the year. We had four Grade As (chances)," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said of Saturday's 4-2 loss to San Jose. "Then it just kind of unraveled."
Nick Schmaltz and Derek Stepan scored on Arizona's first two shots on Saturday, with the former finding the net 1:33 into the first period before the latter tallied 39 seconds later.
The Coyotes failed to maintain the momentum, however, going 0-for-3 on a power play that had clicked for five goals on 13 opportunities in their previous six games.
"It wasn't good. We had three (power plays) in a row there, I don't think we even got the puck in and set up at all," Schmaltz said, per ArizonaSports.com. "That's really frustrating, especially when you're on the power play, you want to take ownership and you want to make that play to help the team, and we've got to be better on that."
Arizona looks to turn around its current fortunes with a stint on the road, where it owns a sparkling 8-3-3 mark. The Coyotes are led in net by Darcy Kuemper (10 wins) and Antti Raanta (five), who have helped Arizona rank second in fewest goals allowed per game this season (2.32).
While the Coyotes could hang their hats on a strong start, the Blue Jackets lamented being unable to finish in Saturday's 2-0 setback to the New York Islanders.
"I thought we played well," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We weren't able to finish. We ended up with some opportunities. I thought we had some good forechecking. We didn't score."
The shutout snapped the career high-tying six-game point streak (two goals, seven assists) of Oliver Bjorkstrand, who collected a goal and an assist in the Blue Jackets' 3-2 victory over Arizona on Nov. 7.
The sting of Saturday's setback was made worse the following day when Columbus announced that defenseman Zach Werenski would be sidelined for four weeks with a shoulder injury.
Werenski, who collided with Islanders captain Anders Lee early in the first period, ranks third on the Blue Jackets with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 26 games this season.
"We've got to pick up the slack. Zach is a very key part of our team. I think he's the engine of our offense most nights," fellow defenseman Seth Jones said.
"It's a big void to fill, but we have a lot of depth. We have guys that have been scratching to get in the lineup, and I know they'll come in and do a great job for us, and the guys that are playing as well need to step up and do a little bit more and be a little better too."
Gustav Nyquist came up empty on three shots against the Islanders, one night after recording his second career hat trick in Columbus' 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh.
The 30-year-old Swede also had a three-point performance with a goal and two assists in the previous encounter with the Coyotes.
Joonas Korpisalo, who made 29 saves versus the Penguins, is expected to draw the start against Arizona. He turned aside 30 shots versus the Coyotes last month.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 2, 2019