Even with a quick turnaround for starting goaltender Ivan Prosvetov, the Arizona Coyotes still proved to be difficult to beat between the pipes.
With goaltenders Karel Vejmelka and Connor Ingram leading the Coyotes through the hot streak following the trade deadline, head coach Andre Tourigny saw an opportunity for another netminder.
In came Prosvetov from the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) who ended up stealing the game from the Nashville Predators with 39 saves in the 4-1 win at Mullett Arena.
The Coyotes have bounced back quickly from the trade deadline that broke up some of the team, collecting a win and an overtime loss in the last two games.
“I think our game is climbing. It’s not perfect, we still have room for improvement,” Tourigny said. “But I think we need to be honest here. Ingy and Veggie have been so good for us here and the fact that Ivan was called up today and played brought a little bit of urgency in the room.”
Defensively, the Coyotes were sound with 20 blocked shots and an early 1-0 lead that held up until goals from Barrett Hayton and Jack McBain added extra insurance in the third period.
“The way the other two (goaltenders) are playing for us, we rely a lot on them. That brought a lot of urgency and you saw that in the first 50 minutes of the game where we were way more stingy defensively,” Tourigny said.
Visa issues delayed Brett Ritchie from making his debut with the Coyotes after being traded by the Calgary Flames on March 3 in a deal that also included his brother, Nick. Even with Brett sidelined from playing for nearly a week, he jumped into the offense quickly.
The Coyotes overcame two early penalty kills in the first period and gained control with 18 shots. Not only were the Coyotes displaying great puck movement, but the team wasn’t shy about getting to the net and pushing Juuse Saros. While the Coyotes weren’t able to cap an impressive power play with a goal, Ritchie redirected defenseman J.J. Moser’s shot from the point soon after for the 1-0 lead.
“That’s the hockey gods. They give you a bounce early like that,” Ritchie said. “It happened to Nick the other night too. That always seems to happen. Guys play in their first NHL game and they score on their first shot. It was good to see one go in.”
Holding it down
In his first NHL game since April 4, Prosvetov didn’t show any signs of rust against the Predators. He turned away six different man advantages and stopped all 23 shots through the first two periods.
Prosvetov wowed when he made a split save on defenseman Ryan McDonagh and then made another stop on left wing Kiefer Sherwood at the end of the second period.
“The game was good, I tried to take it step-by-step. The first 20, second 20, third 20. The first and second were good, the third, I have to work on a little bit,” Prosvetov said. “I was feeling good and I was preparing the same way that I would in Tucson. I’ve played lots of games out there and I was ready to go.”
Vejmelka was a healthy scratch, while Ingram served as the backup to make way for Prosvetov.
“He did not have time to be nervous, he said, ‘OK, I’m playing tonight, let’s go,’ ” Tourigny said. “He did not overthink everything, so that was good and we’ll see down the road if he’ll have other opportunities to play.”