Coyotes look to keep believing vs. Hurricanes

The Sports Xchange
Derek Stepan and the Arizona Coyotes face the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
Derek Stepan and the Arizona Coyotes face the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For a couple teams that have been struggling, the Arizona Coyotes found their way out at least for one night.

The Carolina Hurricanes hope it's their turn when the Coyotes visit Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena.


The Coyotes are coming off Friday night's 5-4 overtime victory at the New York Rangers, responding from a three-goal deficit. That was Arizona's first victory in the last five games.

"We stuck to the program," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "We were getting our chances and started to believe."

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Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were on the losing side of a 6-5 shootout loss to visiting Washington, which overcame a three-goal hole.

"The game of hockey is a lot of ups and downs, lots of momentum," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said.

Consider that Carolina racked up a total of nine goals across its last two games and didn't win either is a concern for the Hurricanes.

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By comparison, Arizona has scored eight goals across its last three games. Yet Sunday's contest is a chance for the Coyotes to cap a four-game road swing with a .500 mark in those outings.


"We've got a young group of guys who have it embedded into their brains that whatever happens you stay even-keeled and you keep playing your game and keep sticking to your structure," said Arizona center Derek Stepan, whose overtime goal was the winner against the Rangers.

The Hurricanes are 1-4-2 in their last seven games. Unable to finish the task against the Capitals seemed particularly crushing.

"It hurts," said center Sebastian Aho, who supplied a four-point outing with two goals and two assists.

Aho has moved into a share of the Carolina team lead with 11 goals. He has three career four-point games.

Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said the Hurricanes continue to learn some tough lessons, but he senses a good level of determination.

"The guys know they threw that one away with the turnovers, the little things," Brind'Amour said. "I like that we just didn't cave in because that would have been really devastating."

The Coyotes have made it through some dips in results by sticking with the game plan.

"Even through our stretch here where we lost a couple of games, I felt like we never quit on it," Stepan said. "We stayed with our system. We competed hard each of those games. I like this group's resiliency and their character."


Arizona rookie goalie Adin Hill owns an NHL-best 1.17 goals against average in road games.

The Hurricanes seem to be in a bit of bind with goaltending. Scott Darling returned for his first NHL action since Nov. 24 and couldn't come through enough despite a three-goal lead.

The Coyotes have surrendered an NHL-low 11 power-play goals this season despite allowing three in the New York game. They also lead the league with 11 short-handed goals.

Yet in the game against the Rangers, the Coyotes found stability in other areas.

"I thought our 5-on-5 was fine," Tocchet said. "I really liked that."

Arizona won 4-3 in overtime against the Hurricanes on Nov. 2 at home. The Coyotes haven't swept Carolina in a season series since the 1999-2000 season.

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