Ducks look to stay hot versus struggling Coyotes
The Anaheim Ducks drew motivation from an embarrassment and turned it into one of their best games of the season. Now the Arizona Coyotes will try to do the same thing.
The Ducks, winners of three of four going into their Sunday afternoon game against the Coyotes in Anaheim, Calif., responded to a 4-1 loss to Vegas on Wednesday by beating the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Friday night -- a win that center Ryan Getzalf said was "one of our more complete games this season."
"Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going," he said.
The Coyotes can only hope they finally get the momentum stopped.
They began their season Oct. 5 by blowing a 4-1 lead at Anaheim and losing 5-4, a harbinger of what was to come in coach Rick Tocchet's first season. Now, they're 9-26-5 with 23 points.
The Coyotes dropped nine of 11 (2-8-1) going into their second visit to the Honda Center this season.
Two of their most recent losses were among their worst -- 6-2 at home to the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 23 and 7-4 at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, they kept taking it to us," forward Josh Archibald said.
"I'm running out of words to say what the problem is," left wing Jordan Martinook said. "It's happening over and over again and it's frustrating."
The Coyotes will return to starter Antti Raanta in net after backup Scott Wedgewood played in the Toronto loss, but changing goaltenders and line combinations and personnel hasn't proved to be the answer yet for Tocchet.
Wedgewood cited "mental toughness" as an issue for Arizona, which has had problems staying in the lead late in games.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle, however, hopes his team is coming together now after some early season injuries contributed to a somewhat slow start. The Ducks are 17-14-8, with four losses in their last seven games (3-3-1).
"We were embarrassed by what happened in the previous game with Vegas -- where we stopped competing and stopped playing the way we're capable of playing," Carlyle said. "This (the Calgary game) was kind of a make-up game, we had to renew our confidence and feel good about ourselves. We worked and did the right things and competed hard and took the body, we were simple and played a physical game and skated, and that's what we're going to need more of."
They also wouldn't mind some more goals from right wing Rickard Rakell, who scored for the fourth straight game Friday and has a team-high 12 goals, a season after he scored 33.
The Ducks would also like to win more at home, where they are 9-8-3. They also share the NHL lead with eight overtime losses.
"We've been doing a good job of getting off to good starts, but then we let our foot off the gas and let teams back in games," Getzalf said.
Ducks starting goaltender John Gibson (12-12-4) is expected to be back in net, and no doubt will be watching Coyotes rookie forward Clayton Keller closely whenever he's on the ice.
Keller has two goals and six assists during a seven-game scoring streak and leads the Coyotes with 13 goals, even though he is a minus-18. Right wing Christian Fischer has three goals in five games.
Arizona defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body injury), out since Nov. 28, practiced Saturday and appears to be close to returning, but it might not be Sunday.
Updated December 30, 2017