Raanta, defensemen’s offense lead Coyotes past Blues
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Antti Raanta and the Arizona Coyotes look far different from the team that began the season with 11 straight losses. They’re also making things difficult for teams with postseason hopes.
Raanta stopped 34 shots for his third shutout of the season and the Coyotes scored three goals in the second period to beat the playoff-chasing St. Louis Blues 6-0 Saturday night.
”The guys were helping me a lot and when I needed to make the save, I made it,” Raanta said.
Four of the Coyotes’ goals came from defensemen, including Luke Schenn, who scored his first goal in his 61st game of the season. Schenn also energized a large crowd and his teammates with a powerful check of Blues forward Scottie Upshall early in the second period.
Richard Panik added a goal just before the hit, and 28-win Arizona won its 10th this month.
”It was nice to see the `D’ contribute and score some goals,” said Schenn, who faced his brother Brayden with their parents in attendance. ”It was an all-around enjoyable night. The second period it was pretty loud and energetic and those are the type of games you want to play in.”
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored on a power play and assisted on another second-period goal, Jakob Chychrun, Alex Goligosksi and Zac Rinaldo also scored, and Max Domi and Dylan Strome had three assists each for the Coyotes. Panik had an assist and Derek Stepan had two.
The Blues entered 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, but ended the night tied with Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the West at 92 points through 78 games. The six-goal loss was the most lopsided for St. Louis this season.
”We can’t allow any carryover from this,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. ”Three weeks ago I don’t think anybody would have put us in this place, and the opportunity that we have here, that’s something we need to be excited about.”
Jake Allen made his 12th consecutive start in goal for St. Louis, but was replaced after the Coyotes’ second goal on 14 shots. Carter Hutton finished the game and made 15 saves.
”Jumping in and trying to find a rhythm was tricky,” Hutton said. He hadn’t played since March 3 at Dallas.
Brayden Schenn hit the post with a shot midway through the first period, the best scoring chance in the early going for St. Louis. Allen caught Brendan Perlini’s wrister at 14:27, but couldn’t stop Luke Schenn’s long shot 32 seconds later.
”I was not wanting to go the whole year without getting one,” Luke Schenn said.
The Coyotes made it 2-0 at 3:51 of the second period. Clayton Keller bounced a cross-ice pass to Panik, who scored from distance for his 13th of the season.
Luke Schenn threw a shoulder into Upshall, who staggered into the Blues’ bench area after the hit. Schenn and the Blues’ Chris Thorburn were given five minutes for fighting after the check.
Upshall did not return.
Raanta thwarted several Blues’ attempts right in front of the net with saves amid heavy traffic throughout the second period and made more impressive saves in the third. He has 11 career shutouts.
A third Coyotes goal at 13:54 was waved off for incidental contact with Hutton before the puck crossed the goal line. Arizona challenged the call but it was upheld.
Ekman-Larsson, who lost a goal on the call, scored at 15:09 on a power play, his 14th of the season. Stepan reached 42 assists, a career high in a single season.
Chychrun made it 4-0 with his goal 20 seconds before the second intermission. Rinaldo ended the scoring at 17:40 of the third.
”They’ve bought in. I’ve got to give a lot of guys credit for that,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. ”It’s easy when you’re out of the playoffs to give up, and we haven’t given up.”
NOTES: Blues D Mitch Reinke, a 22-year-old who just finished his college season with Michigan Tech, made his NHL debut. … The Blues called up D Chris Butler from AHL San Antonio in time for the game, but he was scratched. So was D Jordan Schmaltz with an upper body injury suffered Friday at Vegas. … Coyotes C Christian Dvorak was scratched with a lower body injury, his first missed game of the season. … The Coyotes reached 10 wins in March for just the fifth time in franchise history. … Assistant captain Brianna Decker and forward Amanda Pelkey, from the United States women’s hockey team that won the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, performed the ceremonial puck drop before the game.
Blues: Host Washington on Monday.
Coyotes: At Calgary on Tuesday.