Coyotes finally find first win by rallying over Kraken, 5-4
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Scott Wedgewood had been here before.
The last time Arizona started a season with 11 losses — four years ago — Wedgewood was the goaltender when the Coyotes finally got their first win.
He returned to the team Friday after being claimed on waivers from New Jersey, and came off the bench Saturday night to help Arizona pick up its first win this season in a comeback 5-4 victory over the Seattle Kraken.
Wedgewood relieved Karel Vejmelka 59 seconds into the game, after the Kraken took a 2-0 lead on their first two shots.
“Happy to be back, I enjoyed my first time here,” said Wedgewood, who hadn’t even practiced with the team after rejoining them Friday in Anaheim. “Legs are shaking a little bit, your new team, you know what’s at stake and you’re down early and you just want to keep them in it. In the second period we started to really find our game.”
“He was unbelievable,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “He made the difference.”
Wedgewood stopped 27 shots. Lawson Crouse scored two goals, including the game-winner with 1:05 remaining. The Coyotes (1-10-1) avoided breaking the franchise record for most losses to start a season, set in 2017-18. The only team with a worse start in NHL history was the 1943-44 New York Rangers, who lost their first 11 and didn’t get their first win until their 16th game.
Crouse added: “It was an emotional three weeks. But at the same time we gotta continue to build off of it. But I’m not going to lie, it feels really good.”
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol called the loss “disappointing.”
“Overall in some critical areas, our focus was not there,” he said. “You look at the third goal, a pass-out play from underneath our goal line. Our awareness was not there. The communication wasn’t there.”
As for the early lead causing a loss of focus, he said: “That shouldn’t be part of it at all. We were able to build a 3-1 lead. We didn’t make them work hard enough.”
Tourigny picked up his first win as an NHL coach.
“My first thought was for the players,” Tourigny said. “It gets heavy mentally. It hurts as a coach when they don’t get a reward. It was great to get that today. Guys stayed with it, we’re down 3-1 in the first. It was not like it’s a walk in the park, so the players believing in the process, in themselves, trusting in each other, that was huge.”
The lead changes came quick at the end of the third period. Phil Kessel’s power-play goal with 6 minutes to play put the Coyotes on top, then Seattle’s Mark Giordano tied the game — just 13 seconds before Crouse’s goal.
Shayne Gostisbehere had assists on three of Arizona’s goals. Antoine Roussel and Travis Boyd also scored for the Coyotes and Johan Larsson had two assists.
For the Kraken, Jordan Eberle tallied 15 seconds into the game and Yanni Gourde scored at 59 seconds. Nathan Bastian also scored his first of the season. Philipp Grubauer stopped 17 shots.
Roussel’s first goal of the season came at 1:33 in the first period — marking the sixth time in NHL history that the first three goals were scored in the first 93 seconds of the game. The last NHL game where each of the first three shots were goals was between Montreal and Florida on Dec. 28, 2007.
PICKING IT UP
Eberle’s goal was his fourth in two games; he had a hat trick in the Kraken’s 5-2 victory over Buffalo on Thursday.
Seattle: At Vegas on Tuesday night.
Arizona: Hosts Minnesota on Wednesday night.
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