What a way to end a homestand.
Nick Schmaltz recorded a franchise-record seven points, Matias Maccelli scored his first NHL goal, and the Arizona Coyotes concluded their eight-game homestand with a wild 8-5 win over the Ottawa Senators in front of 11,810 raucous fans on Saturday at Gila River Arena.
The win was the second straight for the Coyotes, who finished the homestand 4-4 and have won three of their last four games.
Nick Schmaltz Stays Hot While Making History
Schmaltz has consistently improved after missing nearly two months with an injury earlier this season, and now has 14 points in his last six games after yesterday’s monster performance. He has truly clicked on a line with Clayton Keller and recently re-signed Travis Boyd (more on that later), and the club’s top line was at it yet again on Saturday.
Schmaltz and Keller accounted for four goals and seven assists in the game, while defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had a four-point night of his own. Goalie Scott Wedgewood made 41 saves, and came up with a number of key ones after Ottawa had roared all the way back from a four-goal deficit to take a 5-4 lead early in the third.
As the stunned crowd looked on, Schmaltz went to work en route to the Coyotes’ victory.
“Some nights you get a little extra jump, and the puck kind of finds you a little bit more than most nights,” he said. “That was one of those days today where the puck was just kind of finding my stick and guys were making plays and finding me, and it was some luck involved, but very fortunate to be able to get those chances.”
The 26-year-old was effective from the opening face off, as he opened the game’s scoring with a power-play goal by beating Senators goalie Matt Murray just seconds into the man advantage. After Keller made it 2-0, Schmaltz then scored another before Maccelli recorded his first goal in the NHL to pad Arizona’s lead to four. He joined defensemen Dysin Mayo and J.J. Moser as Coyotes who have logged their first NHL goal this season.
Normally that would command the postgame attention, but Schmaltz’s offensive display stole the show. His record-setting night was a franchise record for the most points in a single game, dating all the way back to when the then-Winnipeg Jets joined the NHL in 1979. His five assists tied the club record, which was set by Keith Tkachuk on Feb. 23, 2001.
“It was one of those nights where everything was kind of coming my way and everything was going in, so it was pretty special,” Schmaltz said. “Obviously that doesn’t happen very often, so enjoy it and then get back to work.”
He has nine goals in as many games, and has recorded four multi-goal games in the last 15 games.
Coyotes Narrowly Avoid Epic Collapse, Respond Emphatically
Though fans were all smiles in the stands after taking a 4-0 lead, the mood in the arena changed in a hurry after the Senators scored five unanswered goals — three in the second to cut Arizona’s lead to one goal before notching two goals in the first two minutes of the third.
Parker Kelly got Ottawa on the board after finally beating Wedgewood, and it was a relatively soft goal that sparked the Senators. Christian Fischer took a penalty just 15 seconds after, which Josh Norris capitalized on to make it a two-goal game.
“We could feel that it was coming. and when the first goal went in, the gates were open,” head coach André Tourigny said after the game. “Then they scored on the power play, and we could see that coming.”
Kelly notched his second goal of the game 55 seconds later after beating Wedgewood with a blistering one-timer. Suddenly, Arizona’s lead was cut to one, and though the Coyotes regrouped to finish the second strong, it was a one-goal game with a full period remaining. Alex Formenton scored just 56 seconds into the third, and then Nick Paul got another one minute later, and the Senators had climbed all the way back with five unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead.
Against all odds, the Coyotes tied it up on Keller’s second of the night after — who else — Schmaltz stole the puck from Murray and fed it to the All-Star winger. Lawson Crouse, Gostisbehere, and Dysin Mayo then scored in succession to put the club ahead for good.
“When they came back, at some point. the guys said ‘OK, that’s enough now, we need to play. We won’t win the game by just trying to kill the clock,'” Tourigny said. “The mindset shifted, and we showed a lot of character and scored big goals.”
Travis Boyd Signs Two-Year Contract Extension
Travis Boyd, who has played center this season between Keller and Schmaltz, signed a two-year, $1.75 million AAV extension prior to Saturday’s game, offering a little stability for the 28-year-old after previous stops with the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks.
In Arizona, he’s had a chance to center the club’s top line, and taken full advantage.
“I’m super excited, super pumped up,” Boyd said of his extension. “Obviously, a big step in my career personally, too, but excited to be here, excited to have a home for the next two years, and excited to stay here with this group — and this team and this organization — and really looking forward to what the next two years do bring here.”
Boyd joked after the game that he sometimes just tries to stay out of their way, but Tourigny pointed out just how effective he has been, and why he means so much to the Coyotes.
“I was just kidding with him right now, his wingers have 11 points, and he doesn’t get a point, so I think that’s probably a franchise record as well,” Tourigny joked. “He did a lot of good things. He won 50+ percent of his face offs, he finished plus-2, he played against the best, and he battled hard in the zone in all of it.
“He brings more than just goals and assists. He brings a really good person, a guy who works really hard, a good pro, and a guy I can trust on both sides of the puck.”
The Coyotes hit the road for a five-game road trip, beginning in Detroit on Tuesday. Their next home game is at 2 pm MST on Saturday, March 19 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.