The Arizona Coyotes found a spark with their comeback victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
Now the Coyotes hope to re-ignite their playoff hopes when they face the Calgary Flames in Tempe, Ariz., on Thursday to end a lengthy homestand.
The Coyotes, who lost their grip on a Western Conference wild-card spot with a three-game skid that started as soon as the calendar flipped to 2024, ran an emotional gamut during the 4-3 win over the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins.
In a roller-coaster game, the Coyotes fell behind early, erased that deficit, trailed a second time, responded by taking an early third-period lead, watched it disappear and then won in overtime.
“I saw our team back,” coach Andre Tourigny said. “I saw the energy, the intensity, the no-quit. The care factor was so high. I’m really proud of the boys. Extremely proud.”
The Coyotes have been one of the league’s surprise squads as they head to the midway point of their season, but three losses in which they were outscored 15-4 showed how quickly things can change.
A thriller of a victory over a top-tier squad has the potential to do wonders.
“We pride ourselves on working hard and being a tough team to play against and give the same effort every night. The last couple of games, we got away from that, and the score was pretty lopsided,” said forward Nick Schmaltz, whose overtime winner gave him a goal in three straight games. “We wanted to come out and work hard, because everything cleans up when you work hard.”
The Flames are also coming off a comeback victory that ended a skid. Calgary ended a two-game slide with a 6-3 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. It was their lone home game sandwiched between two road trips to start the calendar year.
Thanks to a four-goal third period, the Flames claimed their sixth victory of the season when trailing after two periods.
“Husk (coach Ryan Huska) just said, ‘Come in at the end of this period with a win.’ That was our mentality. We knew what we had to do. We had to force the play,” rookie forward Connor Zary said of the message during the second intermission. “We started to do that. We were able to get a couple goals there.”
The Flames are one point behind the Coyotes in the wild-card mix, and are aware they must make a significant push in the second half of the season.
Even though they beat the struggling Senators, who are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the Flames take pride in finding the necessary gear for a victory amidst a travel-heavy schedule. The game against Arizona will mark their sixth in 10 days in six cities and three time zones.
“That was a tough game,” Huska said, noting the fatigue factor. “I’m really proud of the way the older guys came to play, and the younger guys followed.”
Those “older” guys are Blake Coleman and Yegor Sharangovich, who each scored twice, as well as defenseman Noah Hanifin, who scored once in a three-point outing.
“We did a good job of handling our emotions,” Hanifin said. “Sometimes, coming off a road trip like that out east, coming off a couple of tough losses for us, these can be tough games back home. I thought we had a really mature game out there, and a really good third period.”
–Field Level Media
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