GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes have a simple but daunting task ahead of them on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets at Gila River Arena.
The task is topping rookie Patrik Laine.
Laine, who was the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, leads the league with 11 goals. The 18-year-old Finn is coming off his second career hat trick on Tuesday as the Jets demolished the Dallas Stars 8-2.
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“It was unbelievable to score three goals again,” said Laine, who also scored three goals on Oct. 19. “I'm proud of myself and I'm proud of our team. We played a really good game. Scoring eight goals, that doesn't happen every day. It was a special win.”
Laine also added an assist in the victory over the Stars. If the Coyotes do stop Laine, they still have to contend with Mark Scheifele, who is tied for second in the NHL with eight goals and tops the league with 18 points after his two-goal, two-assist performance against the Stars.
But it is Laine, however, who is getting the lion's share of the headlines.
“Each game he's gotten better and better, and now you see him finishing his checks, too,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “What you saw in his first few games is that he doesn't want to make any mistakes, he doesn't want to get caught, he doesn't want to be a reason for an odd-man rush.
“What you're seeing now is, he's just learning the game now. Coming over when you're 18 years old, there's a lot to process, and Mark has been really good in the middle for him. You can feel it in the crowd. When he gets the puck from anywhere, you can feel it, the anticipation of the shot. Everybody on our bench has that same feeling.”
Defenseman Tyler Myers notched two asissts versus Dallas in his return to the Jets after missing five games with a lower-body injury.
The Coyotes picked up a 4-2 victory Tuesday at the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes have won three of four and are 4-2 since enduring a five-game losing streak.
Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo scored a second-period goal in his NHL debut Tuesday with Max Domi credited with an assist.
“(Domi) wrapped it around (the goal) and they kind of collapsed, and I just tried to stay in the slot area,” DeAngelo said on the Coyotes' official website. “It was a great pass and I just tried to put it on net.”
He is the 10th player in Coyotes history to score a goal in his NHL debut.
“It was an awesome experience,” DeAngelo said. “I settled down as the game went on. The first couple of shifts I was nervous, but it's just hockey once you get into it. I felt really good and the guys made me feel really comfortable.”
DeAngelo was recalled Monday from the American Hockey League after defenseman Michael Stone was placed on the injured-reserve list with an upper-body injury.
The Coyotes rebounded from a 5-1 loss Friday at Anaheim to beat the Avalanche.
“We took a step forward,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said on the team's website. “The guys worked very hard. That's probably the closest thing to a complete game we've played all year. We got good contributions right throughout our lineup and ended up in a good win.”