Aho nets 36th as Carolina tops Coyotes 5-3, ends 2-game skid
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored his 36th goal midway through the third period and the Carolina Hurricanes snapped a two-game skid with a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night.
Nino Niederreiter, Max Domi, Vincent Trocheck and Jesper Fast also scored for the Hurricanes, who weathered an Arizona comeback try and strengthened their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“Definitely a huge win,” Niederreiter said. “We needed that one for sure. There were good parts about the game, and some time of the game we need to clean up.”
Carolina has 106 points, two more than the second-place New York Rangers, and has two more regulation wins, the first tiebreaker. The Hurricanes have five games remaining, and the Rangers six. The teams meet in New York on April 26.
Nick Ritchie, Loui Eriksson and Alex Galchenyuk scored in the second period for the Coyotes. Arizona trailed 3-0 and 4-1 before closing within 4-3 when Eriksson and Galchenyuk scored in the final four minutes of the period.
Antti Raanti had 23 saves for the Hurricanes and Karel Vejmelka had 46 for the Coyotes.
“It was OK,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We definitely created enough chances and gave up a few too many good looks and they capitalized. We’ll take the two points for sure. Needed it.”
The Coyotes, who have lost seven in a row and 14 of 15, had not scored as many as three goals in regulation since a 5-2 victory over San Jose on March 30. In that game, leading scorer Clayton Keller suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Trochek scored from in front at 4:01 of the first period when he redirected a cross-ice pass from Brady Skjei that hit the left post and caromed in for his 20th goal.
Tony DeAngelo hit a post a minute later, and Vejmelka stopped Aho’s point-blank backhander in the final six minutes of the period to keep it 1-0.
Fast gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead at 1:47 of the second period when he skated in on the left side, kept control the puck as traffic cleared, and flipped a wrist shot in off the far post.
Domi’s 100th career goal made it 3-0 three minutes later as he knocked in a rebound off Vejmelka. A former Coyotes player, Domi had 39 goals in 222 games for Arizona. With center Jordan Staal out Monday, Domi centered a line with wings Niederreiter and Fast.
“That’s one of the best lines in hockey,” Domi said. “It’s never fun to see a guy go down, especially one of your best players if not your best player and the leader of your team. Hopefully he’ll be back in the next few days. It’s pretty special to get with those guys until he gets back.”
Ritchie broke the shutout bid on a slap shot from the slot that got over Raanta’s glove after a feed from rookie Nathan Smith, who had his first career point in his fourth game.
The Hurricanes regained a three-goal lead when Niederreiter put a wrist shot through Vejmelka’s pads at 11:52, but the Coyotes rallied on goals by Eriksson and Galchenyuk in the final 3:45 of the period to make it 4-3 entering the third.
Eriksson took a long pass at the blue line behind the defense and put a wrist shot into the far side at 16:15. Galchenyuk’s one-timer from a severe angle near the bottom of the left circle got in on the short side to make it 4-3 entering the third period.
“The effort is always there,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We saw more focus. We kept pushing. It was good to have contributions from different lines. It helped us come back. We made a game of it. That was a positive thing.”
HURRICANE INJURY WATCH
The Carolina Hurricanes are monitoring key injuries as they play through their final six regular-season games.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen is expected to miss at least a week after suffering a lower-body injury late in third period of a 7-4 loss at Colorado on Saturday. “That’ll be probably reevaluated in about a week,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said Monday. “We’ll get a sense of where he’s at then.”
Andersen is second in the league in goals-against average (2.17), tied for fourth in goaltender wins (35) and sixth in save percentage (.922) among goalies with at least 20 games.
Captain Jordan Staal (upper body) took part in the morning skate but did not play. Staal scored two goals in Saturday’s 7-4 loss at Colorado, but left in the third period after taking a jarring shoulder-to-chest hit from the Avalanche’s Cale Makar. Staal has six goals in his last four games.
Forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who played in the previous two games after missing eight with a lower-body injury, did not play after getting “nicked up again,” Brind’Amour said.
NOTES: The Hurricanes’ played their last game outside the Eastern time zone. They host Winnipeg on Thursday and finish the regular season with games at the Rangers and Islanders and a home-and-home set against New Jersey. … Coyotes D Jakob Chychrun (lower body) missed his 18th straight game. The Coyotes have said they will entertain offers for him in the offseason. … Vejmelka played in his 48th game, tying a franchise season record for rookie goaltenders. … Coyotes F Phil Kessel got his 950th career point on an assist in the second period. Kessel is two goals from 400 career goals and two games from 1,200 career games … Coyotes F Andrew Ladd played in his 999th career game.
Hurricanes: Host Winnipeg on Thursday.
Coyotes: Host Chicago on Wednesday.
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