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Apr 4, 2024 11:39 pm

Surging Golden Knights start road trip vs. Coyotes

Anthony Mantha

The Vegas Golden Knights are finding their form in time for a playoff push. The defending Stanley Cup champions are riding a three-game winning streak as they kick off a three-game road trip against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday in Tempe, Ariz.

Thanks to a 9-2-1 run, the Golden Knights (42-25-8, 92 points) have pulled themselves within three points of the Edmonton Oilers for the second spot in the Pacific Division.

Vegas, which started the season with a seven-game winning streak, went through its share of struggles for much of the campaign, but appears to have things on track. The Golden Knights are coming off a dominant 6-3 home victory over the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday in which they scored four goals in the first period.

“I loved the way we played. I loved the way we started and battled the whole night,” Canucks coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Full value, I felt. I’m going to watch it again, and it’ll probably back that up. I’ll see a lot of good stuff.”

Among the good stuff is the contributions of two veteran players acquired before the trade deadline. Against Vancouver, Anthony Mantha scored his second goal since joining Vegas, and defenseman Noah Hanifin notched his first tally with the Knights.

“It was good to finally get one,” said Hanifin, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames. “Just trying to get pucks on net and shoot it. Fortunately, it was nice to get one in front of the home crowd.”

The Golden Knights are also preparing for the team debut of forward Tomas Hertl. However, Hertl is not yet ready to return from a knee injury suffered in late January while with the San Jose Sharks. Forward Nicolas Roy is also expected to miss this game, and the club summoned 2020 first-round draft choice Brendan Brisson from the minors.

The Coyotes (31-39-5, 67 points), long eliminated from playoff contention, will conclude a seven-game homestand during which they have gone 3-3.

Arizona is coming off a crushing 2-1 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday, a second consecutive defeat.

“We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t play fast enough. They’re very good defensively, and we weren’t able to break that,” forward Dylan Guenther said. “They’re stingy on the lines and we have to be able to get through them sometimes. Not every game we’re going to get a ton of chances. I thought we played well defensively, they just played a little faster, a little more connected.”

After failing to generate much of anything in the first two periods — the Coyotes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods — Arizona actually dictated the play in the third period and was rewarded when Guenther tied the score midway through the final frame. However, former Coyotes forward Conor Garland scored with less than two minutes remaining to give Vancouver the win.

As well as the Coyotes played in the third period against a team that’s in the mix for the regular-season crown, there was no solace afterward.

“We (finally) made some plays with the puck,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “The first two periods we struggled to make passes on our breakouts. If you don’t break out with some pace, it’s tough to generate anything. … Our play with the puck forced us to play too much without the puck.”

–Field Level Media

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