Coyotes gear up for hot Maple Leafs
TORONTO -- The Arizona Coyotes are on their first winning streak of the season, but they will be hard-pressed to continue it Monday when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After winning in regulation for the first time Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, the Coyotes won a second game in a row Saturday, 3-2 in overtime against the Ottawa Senators.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have won six in a row, including two straight shutouts. They trounced the Canadiens 6-0 Saturday in Montreal.
Center Auston Matthews returned to the Maple Leafs' lineup Saturday and scored two goals after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
"Obviously, he's not himself yet," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "He can still shoot the puck as you saw, he got a couple, but all his detail and all that stuff will come back as his legs do and he gets more comfortable. It was good for him to get a couple and feel good. He's a high-, high-end player. It'll take him a few games."
The Coyotes (4-15-3) got a hat trick from Anthony Duclair in Ottawa. They will be completing a four-game road trip at the Air Canada Centre on Monday.
"I think it was a well-earned win to be honest," Duclair said of beating the Senators. "We carried that momentum from the Montreal game, and all four lines were rolling and we just played a solid 60 minutes."
Frederik Andersen's consecutive shutouts are the first for a Maple Leafs goaltender since Jan. 23, 2017, against the Calgary Flames and Jan. 25, 2017, against the Detroit Red Wings. He is the first Maple Leafs goaltender to earn a shutout in Montreal since James Reimer on Feb. 9, 2013.
"I think I'm being aggressive on the puck, I think I've talked about that a little lately," Andersen said. "I'm trying to challenge the shooter a little bit more, and obviously we've been playing really well, too. We've taken big steps since the road trip on the West Coast. Obviously, we're on the road right now and we didn't allow too much from the inside. I think, especially early on, it was a lot from the perimeter. We got into the game after that."
Matthews said it took him some time to get going on Saturday.
"I didn't feel too hot out there those first two periods, but I think it's all part of coming back and not playing in four games, so there's definitely some room for improvement," the 20-year-old said. "It's better. I mean, it feels solid. It's just, you're on the ice for a little bit and you're just trying to get back. You know, it's tough to get into game shape without playing games, so obviously with the first one back I'm just trying to get everything back in order."
Duclair was a healthy scratch in six of the past 11 games for the Coyotes, so his scoring outburst made his case for more playing time. He has six goals in 15 games.
"It's always tough to be in and out of the lineup," Duclair said. "At the same time, it starts in practice. It starts with preparation. You want to do your best every night to help the team win. You have to keep a positive attitude. That's the main key. Every time you get an opportunity, you want to take it and run away with it."
Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta said, "Even if (Duclair) hasn't been playing a lot, he's been working individually, extra time on the ice. He's a great guy to be around. He's been supportive even though he hasn't been playing. When he gets a chance, you can see he doesn't want to go to the scratching room anymore. He has the skill. He can score goals. He can make the plays. (Saturday) we saw three of those. I'm so happy for him."
The Coyotes sent defenseman Dakota Mermis to their American Hockey League club, the Tucson Roadrunners, on Sunday. He played seven games with Arizona this season and didn't register a point.
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