Arizona Coyotes fans learned in the offseason that the team will be in the desert for at least two more seasons.
That means there will be two seasons in which they can enjoy watching Max Domi.
Domi enjoyed a successful NHL debut and will look to make the Coyotes’ home opener Saturday night a successful one against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was blanked in its opener.
In July, the Glendale City Council voted unanimously in favor of a restructured arena lease agreement with the Coyotes. The franchise will play at Gila River Arena for at least two more years, with Arizona getting a chance to work out a new long-term deal or explore other options like a new arena in downtown Phoenix.
Arizona had the NHL’s third-worst attendance a season ago but will anticipate a big crowd Saturday to see Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Those fans will also get their first look at Domi, the son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi. Max Domi, the 12th overall draft pick in 2013, had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 4-1 victory over Los Angeles.
”Everybody in our room expected him to play well. Max, he’s been in the spotlight his whole life,” coach Dave Tippett said. ”I’m so happy for him. He has waited for this game for a long time, and for him to play as well as he did, it was really nice to see. All our young guys played well.”
He’s the first player in franchise history with multiple points in an NHL debut since current captain Shane Doan had two assists for the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 7, 1995. Domi was born in Winnipeg on March 2, 1995.
Doan is two points away from reaching 900 for his career.
Arizona won Friday despite being outshot 41-22. Mike Smith, who had the league’s fourth-worst goals-against average a season ago at 3.16, made 40 saves.
It’s unclear if Smith will start Saturday, and whoever the Coyotes use in goal will face a team hungry to score.
That’s because Pittsburgh fell 3-0 on Thursday at Dallas despite enjoying a 37-24 advantage in shots, though Crosby finished without one. He had only three games last season without a shot.
The Penguins were 0 for 3 on the power play.
”We got to find ways to score goals whether it’s the power play chipping in or finding ways in front,” Crosby said. ”It wasn’t lack of chances.”
Kris Letang had a team-high eight shots and Phil Kessel had six in his Pittsburgh debut. Penalties by Nick Bonino and Ian Cole led to goals for the Stars.
"Number one, we can’t take those penalties and two, our penalty kill has to be better," coach Mike Johnston said.
The Penguins won both meetings last season with the Coyotes behind two goals and three assists from Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury started Pittsburgh’s 3-1 road victory March 21 and made 30 saves to improve to 4-3-0 with a 2.13 GAA in eight starts against the Coyotes.
Malkin has four goals and six assists during a five-game point streak versus Arizona.
Coyotes winger Steve Downie spent last season with the Penguins, leading the league with 238 penalty minutes.