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'Yotes Notes: Gagner Ends Drought at Key Time

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the team’s come-from-behind win over Florida on Saturday night was the fact that forward Sam Gagner notched his first point of the season – an assist on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game-winning power-play goal in overtime.

"I was just kind of focusing on playing my game and letting things happen," said Gagner, whom the Coyotes acquired via trade last summer to bolster the team’s offense. "It was nice to kind of help out on the power play at the end there and find a way to get the team the two points. It's big and I’ve just got to keep it going here."


Head Coach Dave Tippett moved Gagner from center to wing for the game, and Gagner was OK with the switch. He played on a line with rookie center Justin Hodgman and winger Martin Erat.

"I felt good," Gagner said. "I felt like I adjusted. There's still some different things in the D-zone and on the wall that you need to be aware of on the wing that I'm adjusting to, but I felt like it was a good game, and I felt like we were creating some things and hopefully we continue to do that."

Hodgman scored Arizona’s first goal of Saturday’s game in his NHL debut on his first shot.

"I didn't want to take my jersey off," Hodgman said after the game. "It's been a long journey."

Hodgman, 26, played in the OHL, IHL, ECHL, AHL and KHL before finally reaching the NHL.

"There were some tough times for sure, being over there (in Russia), but I just made the decision that I was going to come back and give it a go," Hodgman said. "I figured this might be my last shot with my age getting up there."

Tippett liked what he saw from Hodgman, who won nine of 14 faceoffs and delivered three hits. He also was pleased Hodgman could contribute offensively so quickly.

"That's why you play the game, to be an NHL player and score an NHL goal," Tippett said. "And to get one in his first game at his age is pretty special."

Hodgman is hoping he can play well enough to keep his roster spot.

"This is the first one, but I don't want just one," Hodgman said. "I want to be here. I want to stick around."


• The Coyotes departed on a four-game road trip Monday morning minus forward David Moss, who is considered “week-to-week” because of an upper-body injury.

Moss suffered the injury while blocking a shot vs. Minnesota on Oct. 23. He did not play on Saturday vs. Florida, and he has been placed on injured reserve.

Moss notched an assist and averaged 11:51 of ice time in the first six games.

• Meanwhile, injured center Martin Hanzal is traveling with the team on the trip. Hanzal, who hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury vs. St. Louis on Oct. 18, could return to the lineup as early as Tuesday.

• Center Antoine Vermette quietly played his 400th consecutive NHL game on Saturday.

"There's a luck factor," said Vermette, who was unaware of the milestone until reporters informed him before the game. "But it's something I take pride in, to compete every night."

Vermette’s streak is the third longest streak currently in the NHL. Only Jay Bouwmeester (724) and Andrew Cogliano (548) are ahead of Vermette.

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