Special teams powers New York Rangers past Arizona Coyotes

By Craig Morgan, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 30, 2016 at 9:41 AM
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Special teams have been a strong point for the New York Rangers, and an Achilles' heel for the Arizona Coyotes this season. That was the simple storyline in New York's 6-3 win on Thursday at Gila River Arena.

New York scored four power-play goals in seven opportunities, the key one a deft deflection by Matt Puempel of Ryan McDonagh's shot -- the second goal in his first career hat trick -- to provide the game winner with 5:20 left in regulation. It was the first time New York had scored four power play goals in a game since Feb. 4, 2010 vs. Washington and for the first time in a road game since Dec. 29, 2007 at Toronto -- exactly nine years ago.

"The guys executed, we had good net-front, we got pucks at the net and we were able to obviously score the one that got us the win," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "There's no doubt that power-play wise, it was a good night for us."

The victory was New York's seventh straight over the Coyotes and dropped Arizona to 0-5 on this now-concluded five-game homestand. It marked the first time in Coyotes/Jets franchise history that the team had failed to register a point in a homestand of at least five games.

"It's got to stop," Coyotes right wing Anthony Duclair said. "Having a five-game homestand and not even getting a point is just embarrassing and not acceptable."

Along with Puempel's hat trick, New York got goals from Nick Holden, Chris Kreider and 18 saves from Antti Raanta.

Christian Dvorak, Duclair and Tobias Rieder scored for Arizona, which got 26 saves from Mike Smith, but held a team meeting after the game in which coach Dave Tippett admitted he "had a few things to say."

"We started by taking penalties and we finished by taking penalties," Tippett said. "For us to do a better job on the penalty kill, we've got to do less penalty killing. There was some progress being made but it went out the window the last five minutes of that game."

New York took an early lead on a power play with Coyotes center Jordan Martinook in the box for tripping.

Puempel sent a pass to the slot from behind the net that was intended for Holden. Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski tried to break up the pass but he redirected it between goalie Mike Smith's pads for a 1-0 Rangers lead at 2:24.

Holden got the goal that eluded him on another power play at 8:01 of the first. J.T. Miller circled the net and centered a pass to Holden, who banged it past Smith for a 2-0 lead. It was Holden's third goal in the last two games.

Before this homestand, Arizona had killed 42 of 45 opponents' power plays at home this season, which was the best percentage in the NHL. They allowed 10 power-play goals on 19 chances on this five-game homestand.

Dvorak cut the lead in half when his shot from the slot deflected off Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei and past Raanta at 15:16 of the first period.

New York restored a two-goal lead when Kreider redirected Holden's shot from the high slot past Smith's glove hand at 1:13 of the second period. Kreider has six goals and seven points in his last six games against the Coyotes.

Duclair cut the lead to 3-2 late in the second period when he got around Skjei with a slick move in which he slipped the puck through the defenseman's skates just inside the Rangers blue line. Duclair tried to pass the puck on his backhand to Dvorak. Instead, it deflected off Dan Girardi's stick and over Raanta's shoulder for Duclair's third goal of the season and second in as many games at 15:32

The Coyotes tied the game on Rieder's power-play goal at 7:32 of the third period on which Martin Hanzal recorded his 300th career point, but Puempel provided the game-winner with Hanzal in the box for holding -- a penalty Tippett called a "poor, poor penalty."

Miller added an empty-net goal and Puempel scored again with 16.5 seconds left to complete the hat trick.

"That's the first one in a while for me," said Puempel, whose older brother, Mike, was in attendance. "I don't think I had one in the American League ever. It was nice to see some hats go on the ice."

After that final goal, Smith swung his stick and broke it on the goalpost.

NOTES: Coyotes RW Ryan White missed his third straight game with what coach Dave Tippett called a nagging lower-body injury. He is still day-to-day. ... Coyotes LW Max Domi (hand) and C Brad Richardson (fractured right tibia and fibula) are out indefinitely. ... Rangers RW Pavel Buchnevich (back) did not join the team on its two-game road trip. Coach Alain Vigneault hopes he'll start practicing next week. ... Rangers RW Rick Nash (groin) is day to day. C Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula) is out until at last mid-January. ... Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist (flu) skated with the extras on Thursday morning at Gila River Arena. He is hoping to return Saturday in Colorado. ... When RW Radim Vrbata scored on a penalty shot Tuesday against Dallas, it marked the first successful penalty shot for the Coyotes at home in nine years. The player that scored on that penalty shot on Dec. 29. 2007 against Detroit was Vrbata.

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