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The last time the Coyotes brought a lengthy winless streak to Philadelphia, they blew a three-goal, third-period lead and a two-goal lead in the final minute of regulation before Alex Goligoski scored in overtime to end the longest winless streak to start a season in franchise history at 11 games.
Four years and three days later, the Coyotes brought a nine-game winless streak into Philadelphia, but this time around, they didn’t have goal scorers Jordan Martinook, Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini to stake them to a lead.
The Coyotes went toe-to-toe with the Flyers for the first 30 minutes of the game, even out-chancing them, but a familiar lack of finish and an egregious defensive breakdown led to a 3-0 Philadelphia win at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.
Arizona is now just one loss short of tying the 2017-18 team for the longest winless streak to start a season, and five short of the NHL record set by the 1943-44 New York Rangers. New York is the only team to have surpassed 11.
“We played such a good first half of the game,” coach André Tourigny said. “We squeezed our sticks too hard and we tried to do too much and the Flyers played better in the second half of the game.
“I understand a little bit why we panic and force it, but at the same time that’s the challenge. We need to stay with it and we need to stay within our identity.”
The Coyotes will have a chance to end this winless streak against opponents that don’t match up to the quality of teams they have seen on this road trip. They will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday, then host the expansion Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
Here are five takeaways from Philly.
After further medical tests on a couple of their injured players, the Coyotes received bad news on center Nick Schmaltz and worse news on defenseman Conor Timmins. General manager Bill Armstrong confirmed that Timmins will miss the rest of the season after the original timeline had been 8 to 12 weeks.
Per a league source, Timmins sustained a knee injury on this clean hit from the Florida Panthers’ Radko Gudas on the first game of this six-game road trip. It’s another tough break for a player who has been limited by injuries to just 29 NHL games since signing his entry-level deal with the Colorado Avalanche in 2018.
Tourigny told reporters in Philadelphia that Schmaltz would miss 3-4 weeks with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Schmaltz was originally termed day-to-day after sustaining the injury in the same game against the Panthers. Also injured in that game was forward Ryan Dzingel, who fought Gudas after the hit on Timmins. He will miss an additional 1-2 weeks with an upper-body injury.
On a more promising note, defenseman Kyle Capobianco (knee) is now listed as day to day and skated in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Forward Alex Galchenyuk (upper body) is skating on his own in Arizona, and goaltender Carter Hutton (lower body) is expected to return to the lineup within the next 10 days.
Through 10 games, the Coyotes have scored 13 goals for a 1.3 goals-per-game average, by far the worst in the NHL. Arizona has been shut out three times and held to one goal four more times.
The difficult reality for Tourigny is that the team is generating chances in its last few games, but it has managed just two goals in the past four games.
“We made some adjustments,” Tourigny said Tuesday. “It started against Washington, a few more against Carolina and a few more today. Satisfied, no, but do I see the progression? Do I see our team creating more offense, more quality scoring chances? Yes. I think today we had a bunch of quality scoring chances, especially in the first half of the game.
“Right now we need to finish. When the puck doesn’t go in you don’t always make the right decision. We have a 2-on-1 early in the game where their defenseman is tied up on our non (puck) carrier and we try to pass. That’s not the kind of thing you do when you’re confident. When you’re confident you shoot that puck.”
There aren’t many Coyotes feeling confident. After a strong start to the season, Clayton Keller has just one point in his past seven games. The same stat applies to Phil Kessel. Barrett Hayton has one point in four games since his recall from Tucson and with Schmaltz out of the lineup, there aren’t many other consistent scoring threats available and the Coyotes are paying the price.
Coyotes forward Phil Kessel moved into a tie with Patrick Marleau for the fourth longest streak of consecutive games played at 910. Across the ice, former Coyote and current Philadelphia Flyer Keith Yandle inched within 34 games of Doug Jarvis’ NHL record of 964 consecutive games. It was a fitting matchup because these two players are the ones who will battle it out this season for the chance to pass Jarvis and become the NHL’s all-time ironman.
The man in second place, Garry Unger at 914, retired 38 years ago and while Marleau is officially still active, no team has signed the 42-year-old forward and it appears unlikely that his career will continue, leaving him just short of Jarvis’ record.
In five more games, Kessel will pass Unger and he and Yandle will be chasing the record all alone, with no other active player within 300 games of them. If all goes according to plan, Yandle will break Jarvis’ record on Jan. 20 in Edmonton against former coach Dave Tippett. If all goes according to plan for Kessel, he will pass Jarvis on March 27 at Winnipeg, but keep in mind that the 2022 NHL trade deadline is March 21. There is a good chance that Kessel will break the record as a member of another team.
Shayne Gostisbehere returned to Philadelphia for the first time since the Flyers traded him to the Coyotes in July along with second- and seventh-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft in exchange for cap space. Gostisbehere has a lot of fond memories from Wells Fargo Center.
He won a national championship with Union College there with a one-goal, two-assist performance against Minnesota in a 7-4 victory.
He was the 2016 Calder Trophy runner-up after a 17-goal, 46-point rookie season in 2015-16 with the Flyers, and he had 13 goals and 65 points in 2017-18.
Injuries, healthy scratches and a lost step led to a trade request and an eventual mutual parting last summer, but the Flyers still honored Gostisbehere with a video tribute on Tuesday.
“Philly,” he said. “It’s a tough city but they definitely love you.”
Here is the video of Gostisbehere’s pre-game interview with Philadelphia reporters, courtesy of the Coyotes.
I already mentioned the Coyotes offensive struggles in the first note of this column, but the Coyotes are at or near the bottom of the 32-team NHL rankings in a variety of statistics.
- Arizona is the only team in the league without a win.
- Arizona is last in points with one.
- Arizona is last in goals against per game at 4.1.
- Arizona is last in shots per game at 25.3.
- Arizona is last in team save percentage at .872.
- Arizona is tied for last in penalty-killing percentage with Winnipeg at 62.5 percent.
- Arizona is 31st in power-play percentage at 8 percent, leading only the Vegas Golden Knights, who have yet to score on 18 power-play chances.
- Arizona is 30th in goals against at 5-on-5 with 24.
- Arizona is 28th in faceoff percentage at 45.6.
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