Since February 9th, the Arizona Coyotes have only earned one victory, a 3-2 shootout decision over Vancouver on March 5. The Coyotes came close to stealing another game away from the Canucks, but in the end Vancouver earned a 3-1 victory.
Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom made his first start since his “nightmare” game against San Jose on March 3 and managed to turn aside 24 of 25 shots. The lone Arizona goal came from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who now leads all defensemen with 20 markers.
That goal tied the game at 1-1 late in the first period and it remained an even contest until 16:47 of the third when Vancouver blueliner Alexander Edler collected the game-winner with 3:13 minutes remaining in regulation time.
Arizona was never great this season, but the Coyotes haven’t even won a game in anything other than a shootout since Feb. 3. They’ve also dropped eight straight contests, bringing them down to 21-44-8 this season.
That collapse has resulted in Arizona challenging Buffalo for last place in the NHL and the guarantee of getting one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. The 29th spot is significantly less desirable because you only get a 13.5% chance of winning the first pick (presumably Connor McDavid) in the lottery and it becomes possible that you will end up moving down to the third slot, which would put McDavid and Eichel out of reach.
This win has given the Canucks a six-point lead over Los Angeles in the battle for a playoff spot. With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, that’s a very strong position for Vancouver to be in.
There was a time when Jacob Markstrom seemed like the goalie of the future for the Florida Panthers. He was once regularly labeled as “the best goalie not in the NHL” (or at least the best goalie in the AHL).
Those thoughts feel a little distant for a netminder who is still only 25.
One thought that Ryan Miller’s injury might give Markstrom another opportunity to redeem himself, but Eddie Lack’s been so solid that his opportunities have been few and far between. Sunday stands as a big moment in the big Swede’s career, then.
On the bright side, he’s remained an impressive goalie at the AHL level. He’s currently 19-7-2 with a .932 save percentage for the Utica Comets, doing about all that can be asked of him in that regard.
These are the type of games that can make an impression one way or the other, however, so he aims for a strong showing against Mike Smith and the Arizona Coyotes.
As a bonus for those who kept reading, here’s a really random photo of Markstrom:
Almost feel like we’re seeing a hockey game from the perspective of HAL, huh?
Bruins at Lightning: Tuukka Rask (probably) vs. Ben Bishop (almost certain).
Ducks at Rangers: Expected to be Frederik Andersen vs. Cam Talbot, yet neither are confirmed.
Video: Mike Smith’s pass goes off Sutter’s backside and in for Penguins goal
Mike Smith is known for his ability to play the puck as a goaltender. On Saturday, well, that backfired.
Smith’s clearing attempt from behind his own net up the middle hit off the backside of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Sutter and in for a Pittsburgh goal. That got the Penguins on the board, after they trailed Smith and the Arizona Coyotes following the first period.
In that opening 20 minutes, the Penguins managed three shots on goal. They took over after that.
In the end, the Penguins recorded a 3-1 victory, snapping a four-game losing streak that included a pair of shutout losses.