Coyotes center Martin Hanzal
entered Sunday’s game at Anaheim without a goal through the first six games of the season, but that changed when he gave his team a 1-0 lead just under five minutes into the game.
Hanzal, who signed a five-year contract extension just before the season started, then notched his second of the night later in the first period off an assist from defenseman Keith Yandle
as the Coyotes went on to defeat the Ducks, 5-4.
“Everybody had a great game yesterday,” said Hanzal, who logged 19:07 of ice time and five shots on goal. “It’s nice when you score two, especially in a game where you win against a divisional team.”
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett talked after practice on Monday about how the offensive contributions from a defensive-minded player like Hanzal are key to the team’s success.
“Hanzal had two big goals for us in the first period and Yandle had one that ended up being the game-winner,” said Tippett. “You’re starting to see more people on the board for us now, which is the way it’s going to have to be. Everybody has to contribute, and that was a good sign last night.”
Hanzal, who has two goals and three assists on the young season, said he never started to worry after he went the first few games of the season without a goal.
“I just tried to do my job,” Hanzal said. “I knew it was coming, so it was just a matter of time. I got a couple in the game (in Anaheim), so it’s nice.”
Finishing Sunday’s game with a pair of goals was just the latest chapter in what’s already been an exciting season for the native of the Czech Republic. Shortly before the season started Hanzal was made an alternate captain.
He said it was a privilege to be made an alternative captain, and it’s a reflection of the hard work he’s put into his young NHL career.
“I think I’ve worked pretty hard the last four years, and it’s an honor to have the ‘A,’” said Hanzal, who came into the season with 46 goals and 79 assists in 288 regular season NHL games. “It’s always special on a team where Shane Doan
is the captain because he’s a great captain.”
With two goals in the bank, Hanzal needs 18 more to meet his goal of 20 for the season.
“I’m trying to not think about it, (and) just play my game,” Hanzal said. “But I think it would be nice to score 20 goals. With my ice time and the average I now have, I think 20 would be the goal.”