Tired and beleaguered, the Arizona Coyotes finally got a chance to catch their collective breath for a moment.
Returning home after a two-game Midwestern road swing and following consecutive days off, the Coyotes will face the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.
The Coyotes (22-43-5, 49 points) get just one game on home ice, but coach Andre Tourigny’s group will relish a few days in their own surroundings before heading out for a Saturday game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Tied with the Montreal Canadiens for the fewest points in the NHL, Arizona was glad to have the two-day break.
Over the course of previous 11 days, the Coyotes played seven games, starting with a 4-2 road defeat to the Calgary Flames on March 25.
In those matchups, all against Western Conference competition, the Arizona went 2-4-1 — earning a 5-2 home win over the San Jose Sharks on March 30 and a 3-2 overtime triumph on Shayne Gostisbehere’s power-play marker in Chicago on Sunday.
Tourigny said after his side lost 5-1 at St. Louis on Monday, “(The Blues) were big, heavy, strong. They hit, they skate. We worked. We tried to stay with it.
“I think the guys fought, but it’s not just two games in two nights, it’s seven games in 11 nights. The tank was pretty empty against a big team that skates like that.”
The Coyotes are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games, but they posted a 7-6-1 record in March.
The Canucks (33-28-10, 76 points) have seen their playoffs hopes wane due to a 3-4-3 skid that began on March 17, but they still dream of pulling off an incredible run down the stretch that would send them past one of the two teams currently occupying the Western Conference wild-card spots, the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars.
The Predators (eight-point lead over Vancouver) and Stars (seven-point edge) have each played two fewer games, but the Canucks still have a matchup left with Dallas.
In Las Vegas on Wednesday, Vancouver received first-period tallies 17 seconds apart from Bo Horvat and Brad Richardson to set the tone, and Elias Pettersson had two goals and two assists in a 5-1 triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Thatcher Demko (33 saves) was masterful, and the Canucks were 2-for-3 on the power play while ending a three-game losing streak (0-2-1).
Tanner Pearson, whose 14th goal was one of Vancouver’s five unanswered tallies, said moving into a more structured game was crucial in the second period.
“We kind of got into a track meet, which we don’t like to do, in the middle of the period,” Pearson said. “We were able to bear down, stop that and start creating chances again.”
Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said goalie Jaroslav Halak would start Thursday in Arizona, while slick-passing defenseman Quinn Hughes — sidelined due to an illness on Wednesday — likely will miss his second straight game.
Halak (3-7-2) has made just three appearances (1-1-0) — two of them starts — since March opened. He is 10-3-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average in 15 career appearances against the Coyotes.
–Field Level Media