Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks deflects a shot against Michael Kesselring #5 of the Arizona Coyotes during the second period . (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)
By JOHN MARSHALL Associated Press
March 16, 2023
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes (26-32-11) held a team meeting following the All-Star break in hopes of finding some kind of a spark during another disappointing season.
Whatever was said worked, shaping the Coyotes into one of the NHL’s better team since the break.
Travis Boyd scored twice, Ivan Prosvetov stopped 29 shots and the Coyotes stretched their points streak to seven games with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks (29-33-5) on Thursday night.
“We kind of hit the refresh button and ever since then we’ve been, positive each and every day and playing the right way,” said Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse, who scored in the third period. “That’s what’s led us to all these wins and points streaks.”
Prosvetov helped the Coyotes withstand a string of early penalties in his second start this season and Boyd had his second multi-goal game this month after going five seasons without one.
Arizona is 5-0-2 since losing to Carolina on March 3, has won five straight home games; and its 25 points since the All-Star break is seventh-best in the NHL.
“We’ve just got a lot of belief in each other right now,” Boyd said. “We’ve proven to ourselves that if we play the right way, any given night we can be at any given team. I think that’s what you’re seeing right now.”
Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist, and Andrei Kuzmenko scored for the second straight game. Thatcher Demko had 24 saves for the Canucks, who went 0 for 5 on the power play to see their five-game winning streak end.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save against Arizona Coyotes’ Brett Ritchie (24) during the second period. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
“We got that goal and maybe we thought it would be easy,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said in his first trip back to face his old team. “You’ve just got to work, plain and simple.”
Prosvetov was sharp on short notice his first start of the season, turning away 39 shots in a win over Nashville on March 9 after learning he had been recalled from Tucson of the AHL just before noon.
The Russian rookie stood little chance of stopping the puck when Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesserling made a bad pass in his own end midway through the first period. Kuzmenko, the NHL’s most accurate shooter at 27.3%, finished off the tic-tac-toe passing from Pettersson and Anthony Beauvillier just outside the crease.
The Coyotes gathered some steam after a penalty-filled first period, including Zack Kassian’s game misconduct, and tied it on Boyd’s wrister from the left circle with 30 seconds left.
Boyd scored on a power play in the second period, juking his way around Vancouver defenseman Tyler Myers and slipping a shot between Demko’s pads.
The Canucks committed another penalty early in the third period and Crouse cashed in, flipping in a sharp-angle shot over Demko’s stick shoulder.
“You’re down by two going in the third or whatever, they score the first or second shift, you’re not going to come back every time,” Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes said.
Vancouver turned up the pressure after that and Pettersson beat Prosvetov from the left circle to make it 3-2.
The Canucks pulled Demko for an extra attacker the final two minutes, but Prosvetov made a couple of late saves to preserve the win.
BOYD’S BOUNCE BACK
Boyd set career highs with 17 goals and 35 points a year ago and got this season off to a solid start.
The veteran winger went through a quiet stretch heading into the All-Star break, but has upped his production since. Boyd has three goals the past two games and eight since the All-Star break, with four assists.
“I think maybe a lot on his mind or whatever before,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “He’s clean things up and now he’s playing really good hockey.”
NOTES: Coyotes F Nick Schmaltz missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury…. Vancouver signed F Aidan McDonough to a two-year, entry-level contract. He’s spent the last four years at Northeastern and was drafted by the Canucks in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL draft. … Arizona recalled F Bokondji Imama from Tucson.. … Arizona’s Clayton Keller had an assist on Boyd’s second goal to extend his points streak to seven games (6-7-12).
Vancouver: At Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Arizona: Hosts Chicago on Saturday night.