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'Yotes Notes: Hamilton Makes Long-Awaited Debut with Arizona

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

GLENDALE -- After 19 consecutive games as a healthy scratch, forward Freddie Hamilton played his first game with Arizona on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

Hamilton, whom the Coyotes claimed off waivers on Jan. 4, skated in place of Richard Panik, who missed the game because of a lower-body injury. The 26-year-old logged 10:22 of ice time, took one shot on goal and delivered two hits in Arizona's 2-0 win over Anaheim.

"It's been a while so it was nice to get out there," Hamilton said. "... I've gotten pretty tight with (teammates) over the last little bit, so it's fun to play with them and even better to get a win."

After the game, Coyotes players cheered as Niklas Hjalmarsson awarded Hamilton the team's MVP of the game belt as a reward for his patience and hard work in practice. Some chanted "Free Freddie!" as a nod to his long wait to get off the healthy scratch list.

Video: Belt Ceremony | Ducks vs. Coyotes

"These guys are awesome," Hamilton said. "It's been a lot of fun here over the last two months even though I haven't been playing. It's a great group of guys and a great staff, so I like it here a lot." 

Hamilton hadn't played since Dec. 22 when he was a member of the Calgary Flames. Saturday's game was just his ninth of the season.

"I thought he did a nice job and he's got a pretty good hockey IQ," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "He just found out (he would play) today and he jumped right in there."

Video: Hamilton on First Game with the Coyotes

Antti Raanta stopped all 26 shots he faced to notch his second shutout in the past three games.

"I think when you get the first one, the second one is a little easier to get," Raanta said. "It took a little time to get the first one, but I think our five-man units are really good right now and they're helping me a lot ... I thought we played a really good game today. We were taking their speed away and we were battling hard so we won lots of one-on-one battles. We knew that was going to be a big thing for winning the game."

Video: Raanta: Perfect Gameplan vs. Ducks

Tocchet liked how Raanta rebounded from a 5-2 loss to Calgary on Thursday night.

"He had a tough start last game and he went back in there and gets a shutout," Tocchet said. "That's what good goalies do, they have a tough night, but they bounce back the next night. He did a nice job. He's a humble guy, too. I thought he made some good stops for us."

Jason Demers scored Arizona's first goal at 5:58 of the first period. His shot from the right point got through traffic and past Ducks goalie Ryan Miller to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead for the seventh consecutive game.

"It's always good to get the first goal," Demers said. "Starts are important in this league, especially when you can jump on teams early. I think we've done a great job in the last 10, 15 games and we're starting to get some results. After we get that first goal, I think we've been able to calm our nerves better than we were doing at the start of the year. That just comes with experience and playing in games like this."

Video: Demers on Raanta, Shutout

Max Domi scored an empty-net insurance goal with 1:01 left in the third period.

Josh Archibald assisted on both of Arizona's goals. It was the second multi-point game of his NHL career, and his first with the Coyotes. He notched the other one as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Coyotes last season.

Video: Tocchet on Raanta's Shutout

• The Coyotes recalled forward Laurent Dauphin from the American Hockey League before the game, but he was listed as a healthy scratch. He'll likely play Sunday vs. Vancouver.

• To help celebrate "D-Backs Night," the Coyotes wore jerseys that featured their logo and the Diamondbacks logo during warm-ups. Later, D-Backs third baseman Jake Lamb dropped the ceremonial first puck.

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