EditorsNote: Changed home opener to season opener in 2nd graf
Defenseman Cam Fowler scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period as the host Anaheim Ducks presented head coach Dallas Eakins with a win in his debut, courtesy of a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday in the season opener for both teams.
Fourth-liner Derek Grant also scored and John Gibson finished with 32 saves for the Ducks, who have won each of their last three season openers.
Offseason acquisition Phil Kessel set up Derek Stepan’s goal in the second period for the Coyotes, who were plagued by a lack of offensive firepower last season. They averaged 2.55 goals per game, which was tied for third worst in the NHL.
Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper turned aside 27 shots on Thursday, one day after signing a two-year contract extension through the 2021-22 season.
Fowler weaved around Coyotes forward Vinnie Hinostroza before unleashing a shot from the left circle that sailed over Kuemper’s left shoulder to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the second period.
The goal was the 59th of Fowler’s career, who now sits one shy of Scott Niedermayer for the team record among defensemen.
The Ducks scored the lone goal in the first period despite being outshot by a 14-6 margin.
Grant settled a loose puck and alertly wired a cross-ice feed to Devin Shore just outside the blue line. Shore skated in on net before being denied by Kuemper, but Grant backhanded the loose puck home to open the scoring with 5:28 remaining in the period.
The goal was the 17th of Grant’s career, who scored twice in 31 games with Anaheim last season. He began the 2018-19 campaign in Pittsburgh, with which he also scored two goals in 25 contests.
A pretty passing sequence allowed the Coyotes to forge a tie at 9:03 of the second period.
Clayton Keller backhanded a pass from just outside the right circle to the slot for Kessel, who set up Stepan’s one-timer from the left circle that beat Gibson.
The point was the first in a Coyotes uniform for Kessel, who was acquired from the Penguins for fellow forward Alex Galchenyuk on June 30.
—Field Level Media