Coyotes make quick work of Avalanche
DENVER -- The Arizona Coyotes made their quick trip into Denver a productive one.
Tobias Rieder, Alex Goligoski and Lawson Crouse scored goals, Antti Raanta made 25 saves, and Arizona defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.
The Coyotes (9-25-5) won for the second time in three games after going 1-8-2 in their previous 11 contests, and they did it with minimal time in the Centennial State.
Per NHL rules, teams are required to fly into cities for road games the night before, but the rule is waived after the Christmas break. So the Coyotes landed at Denver International Airport on Wednesday morning and went straight to Pepsi Center for the morning skate.
About 14 hours later, they were headed home with a win, having avenged a 6-2 home loss to Colorado on Saturday night.
“It was something different, that’s for sure,” Rieder said. “It’s even tougher because you haven’t been skating for three days. That’s probably the most important thing to do. It feels good to get the win.”
Mikko Rantanen had a goal and Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots for Colorado. The Avalanche (17-16-3) have lost home games to the two worst teams in the league this month. The Buffalo Sabres beat Colorado 4-2 on Dec. 5.
The Avalanche admitted their sluggish beginning was costly.
“We were rusty at the start of the first, a little sleepy,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We get going at the end of the second and obviously in the third, we push. You know, we had some chances we weren’t able to capitalize on and really their goalie made some key saves at key times.”
Goligoski broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second period after Colorado’s Tyson Jost turned the puck over in the Arizona end. Clayton Keller stole the puck and carried into the Avalanche zone, then fed Goligoski for his fourth goal.
Colorado had chances to tie it early in the third period. Matt Nieto hit the right post early, and Nathan MacKinnon was stopped on a breakaway at 5:10 of the period.
“MacKinnon has a breakaway; they hit a couple crossbars. Game of inches,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “It can go either way a lot of night. It’s nice to be on our end sometimes than the other end. So it was a hard-fought win for us.”
After Nikita Zadorov hit the crossbar late in the third, Crouse, who was called up earlier in the day and played his first NHL game of the season, gave Arizona a two-goal lead when he scored on a give-and-go with Josh Archibald at 15:35 of the period.
“it’s really fun to be back, and starting off on the right foot is a good experience,” Crouse said.
Varlamov came off for an extra skater with 1:53 remaining, but Colorado didn’t score.
“At the end of the second and the third period, we had a lot of chances. We should have scored at least a couple of goals, but (we didn‘t) tonight,” Rantanen said. “Everyone knew it’s one we should have had. Three points out of a playoff spot, we can’t lose these games, especially at home. It’s a tough loss.”
Rieder gave Arizona the lead with his sixth goal 54 seconds into the game. He got the puck when Brendan Perlini bounced a pass off the backboards to Rieder, who snuck it past Varlamov before the goaltender slid over.
Rantanen tied it at 3:56 of the first when he got a stretch pass from Erik Johnson and beat Raanta with a high shot to the short side. It was his 11th goal.
The Avalanche took two delay-of-game penalties seven seconds apart late in the first period, but the Coyotes didn’t score on the five-on-three that spanned the first and second periods.
NOTES: Arizona C Zac Rinaldo was given a six-game suspension by the NHL Department of Player Safety an hour before the opening faceoff. Rinaldo was suspended for punching an unsuspecting player, Colorado D Samuel Girard, in the Saturday game. Rinaldo started his suspension Wednesday. ... Avalanche D Tyson Barrie is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his right hand. Barrie sustained the break blocking a shot in Colorado’s 6-2 victory over the Coyotes on Saturday. ... Arizona recalled F Lawson Crouse from Tucson of the AHL before the game. He was in the lineup in place of Rinaldo. ... Avalanche RW Mikko Rantanen extended his points streak to seven games (two goals, six assists).