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'Yotes Notes: Arizona Gains Point, Confidence with Solid Effort vs. Blues

The Coyotes hung tough with the Western Conference's top team Thursday night in St. Louis

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

ST. LOUIS -- The Coyotes gained a point and lots of confidence on Thursday night as they battled toe-to-toe with the St. Louis Blues, aka the best team in the Western Conference, at Scottrade Center.

Arizona lost, 3-2 in a shootout, but afterward the vibe in the dressing room was quite positive.

"I think it's one of the best games in the whole year that we have played," said goalie Antti Raanta, who stopped 36 of 38 shots over 65 minutes. "... Great work ethic from the whole team today. We got a day off yesterday and came really strong today. Everybody was fighting, working hard… We just need to keep on working, keep our heads up. If we can keep on this kind of work ethic in every game we go and play, we're going to get much more points."

Video: Raanta: 1 of Coyotes' Best Games

• Head Coach Rick Tocchet agreed with Raanta, and singled out defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson for his leadership.

"The guys were good," Tocchet said. "They trust the system. They were committed. We got some good efforts from some guys ... We were a little bit on fumes and that's a good hockey club over there. To be in it right to the end, I thought the guys did a nice job … It was a hell of an effort. We were down to five (defensemen) at the end. I thought Oliver was awesome. He was terrific. He led tonight."

Video: Tocchet: 'Guys Were Committed'

Ekman-Larsson played 28:27, took four shots on goal, delivered five hits and blocked a shot. He also assisted on the second of Brendan Perlini's two goals.

• The Coyotes were playing with just five defensemen because Alex Goligoski suffered a lower-body injury early in the third period, left the game and did not return. Goligoski was hurt when Blues forward Chris Thorburn checked him hard into the boards behind Arizona's net.

"Hopefully it's not too bad," Tocchet said of Goligoski's injury. "Hopefully it's just some kind of contusion that's not too bad."

Goligoski has played 179 consecutive games and has missed just two games over the past four-plus seasons. 

• St. Louis won the shootout 2-0. Both teams had quality scoring chances in the overtime, but Raanta and Carter Hutton were splendid in the nets; Raanta made seven saves and Hutton made four.

Video: ARI@STL: Raanta denies Schwartz on breakaway in OT 

"There were lots of chances both ways, but we couldn't get it done," Raanta said. "It felt like we were playing really good the whole game and then we got really good chances in OT, but we couldn't bury those."

Raanta was displeased he allowed Brayden Schenn to score on the first shot of the shootout.

"The first shot is always crucial in the shootout," Raanta said. "You want to make the save and you want to give your team the edge in the shootout and this wasn't one of those days. But we still got one point so we need to be happy about that." 

• Perlini ended a five-game goal-scoring drought when he notched an even-strength goal at 9:38 of the second period. Anthony Duclair, who was back in the lineup after three straight games as a healthy scratch, set up the goal with a nifty pass from the right corner to Perlini at the bottom of the face-off circle. Perlini scored a second goal 9:03 later during a power play.

"There were some things that didn't go our way with 'Goose' (getting injured) and stuff," Perlini said. "The guys battled through it and we ultimately played a pretty decent game. I don't think there was any panic from us tonight, which was the good thing. Everyone just kept going, shift after shift. That's what you have to do to play a full 60 (minutes)."

As for the three-on-three overtime, which featured 11 shots on goal in five minutes, Perlini said it was fun to participate.

"It's river hockey," Perlini said with a smile. "It's pond hockey. That's the way I look at it anyway. In the 'D' zone you just stay with your guy. It's fun. I wish we could play a whole game like that, to be honest. You never know. Maybe in a few years."

Video: Perlini: 'We'll Take the Point'

• Playing against a team that featured his kid brother Brayden on its top line, Luke Schenn was a physical presence. Schenn led all skaters with nine hits in 22:23 of ice time.

• The Coyotes went 3 for 3 on penalty kills vs. the Blues. Against Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Louis on this trip, Arizona killed 13 of 15 penalties.

• Dakota Mermis, who grew up in nearby Alton, Ill., skated 10:35 in his first NHL game in his hometown. He took one shot on goal.

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