GLENDALE – Center Martin Hanzal returned to the lineup after a two-game absence and notched two more assists in Arizona’s 4-2 win over Colorado at Gila River Arena on Thursday night.
“I was a little tired but I was trying my best,” Hanzal said with a smile. “I’m glad we got the two points.”
Hanzal is tied with several others for the NHL lead with 12 assists.
“I have good wingers,” Hanzal said after being asked why he keeps piling up assists this season. “They’re really fast, especially Duke (Anthony Duclair), Max (Domi) and Tobi (Rieder). They’re fast. They can score. They’re smart. It’s as simple as that. I’m really lucky.”
Hanzal, whose career-high for assists in a season is 27 set in his rookie campaign (2007-08), missed two games last week because of a minor lower-body injury.
On Thursday, he delivered two points in 17:53 and led the Coyotes in the face-off circles with 11 wins.
“I feel healthy,” Hanzal said. “When I’m healthy I can play and I can have fun. That’s the biggest key. When I stay healthy I can do some damage.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett was pleased to see Hanzal return to the ice.
“It was great to have him back in the lineup,” Tippett said. “He eats up big minutes and he’s certainly a vital cog in what we’re trying to do.”
• Forward Tobias Rieder scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period. He has notched four of his five goals on home ice.
• Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck delivered a team-high six hits. He leads all NHL rookie defensemen with 28.
• Goalie Mike Smith stopped 26 of 28 shots to earn his fifth win of the season and his 99th as a member of the Coyotes.
“Mike was really good,” Tippett said. “We put way too much pressure on him in the last five minutes between the penalties and just not executing very well. It was more than I’d like to see Mike work like that, but in the end we’ll take the two points and move on.”
• Defenseman Connor Murphy entered the game with two assists and matched that by notching two assists in the first two periods. With four assists on the season, Murphy already has topped his season total (three) from all of last season.
• Here’s the NHL’s official statement regarding Colorado’s unsuccessful Coach’s Challenge in the second period:
“At 5:16 of the second period in the Avalanche/Coyotes game, Colorado initiated a Coach's Challenge to review whether Steve Downie interfered with Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov before the puck crossed the goal line.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.
Therefore the original call stands – good goal Arizona Coyotes.
Since the Coach’s Challenge did not result in the original call being overturned, the Colorado Avalanche forfeit their time-out.”
• The Coyotes played minus center Antoine Vermette, who is nursing a lower-body injury.
“He skated today but won't play tonight,” Tippett said after the morning skate. “He was out there for 15 or 20 minutes, which is a good sign.”
• The Coyotes will next play on Saturday at home vs. the New York Rangers. The team will host its annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night that night. Click here for details.