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'Yotes Notes: Ekman-Larsson, Kempe Reach Milestones in Humbling Loss

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

GLENDALE -- Coyotes forward Mario Kempe, playing his first season in the NHL at age 29, scored the first goal of his career on Saturday night in Arizona's 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Gila River Arena.

Kempe notched his goal at 15:31 of the first period when he redirected a shot by Anthony Duclair past Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin. The goal, which gave Arizona a short-lived 1-0 lead, was originally credited to Duclair, but was changed to Kempe during the first intermission.

"Honestly, I didn't even know it hit me first," Kempe said. "That's what they said on the replay, that it hit my stick. I don't really care. That's a personal milestone. For me, I just want to get a win right now. Personal stuff comes after."

Video: BOS@ARI: Kempe redirects shot for first NHL goal

The Coyotes signed Kempe, whom Philadelphia drafted in 2007, to a one-year, two-way contract in May, and he was the last forward cut before the start of the regular season. Arizona recalled him from the American Hockey League after its first two games. 

Before signing with the Coyotes, Kempe played three seasons for Vtyaz Podolsk of the KHL, where he notched 83 points in 166 regular-season games.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a power-play goal at 16:25 of the third period to set a franchise record for power-play goals scored by a defenseman with 41. Ekman-Larsson entered the game tied with Fredrik Olausson, who played 496 games for the Winnipeg Jets from 1986-94. Ekman-Larsson has played 499 games for the Coyotes since 2010.

Video: BOS@ARI: Ekman-Larsson finishes one-timer for PPG

• The milestones achieved by Ekman-Larsson and Kempe were the lone highlights in an otherwise forgettable performance by the Coyotes, who dropped to 0-4-1 on the season after 10 days.

Boston outscored Arizona, 3-0, in the second period to turn a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead.

"In the first period it was pretty good, we had a 1-0 lead and they came right back at us and scored," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "Then the second period, it was chaos. That's my fault. I thought I had them ready to go ... I am embarrassed. I apologize to the fans on this one because that second period was not good."

Tocchet also said the Coyotes struggle at key moments in games.

"When pressure hits this team for some reason, adversity, they just forget where to go and then they just start running around," Tocchet said. "That's the dumbfounding thing for me. I don't understand that. But we've got some young guys here and some veterans here that have gotten off to a bad start. It seems like we've got to kind of collectively get everyone together here and chip away. We've got to chip away, chip away ... You can't have four or five passengers. You look down the bench and some guys are sucking wind. I don't understand why we are sucking wind. Are we out of shape? I said that before. Is there anxiety when there is pressure? Sometimes you get anxiety, you get tired. (We're) just trying to put our fingers on this."

He added: "You don't want to babysit players, but it's just got to get harder around here. Whether it's harder practices, whether you want to put curfews, all that baby stuff. I hate doing that stuff, but if that's what it takes, we might have to do it ... It just can't continue this way. The leadership group's got to kind of bunker down a little bit, too. A couple guys aren't playing well and they've got look at themselves right now. They really do."

 

 

Video: Tocchet's Message to Yotes Fans

• Ekman-Larsson, one of the team's five alternate captains, also is frustrated by the team's winless record.

"It feels like we're making too many mistakes," Ekman-Larsson said. "We don't play smart enough and that's why we're losing games right now. At the same time, we've got to keep doing what we're doing well and improve on the things that we're not doing good and stay positive. That's all we can do."

Video: OEL: 'Have to Stay Positive'

Louis Domingue started in goal in place of injured Antti Raanta and stopped 23 of 29 shots. Marek Langhamer, whom Arizona recalled from the AHL on Friday, served as Domingue's backup. Raanta is "day-to-day" with a lower-body injury.

"I don't have much of a message, really," Domingue told reporters after the game. "I don't have an explanation for the how the team plays. It's not my job to wonder what we do good or bad. I've just got to be better."

• With the loss, Arizona dropped to 0-10-1 vs. Boston over the past 11 matchups between the teams. The Coyotes last beat Boston on Oct. 9, 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Alex Goligoski wore the rotating third 'A.' Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson are wearing the 'A' on a permanent basis this season.

 

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