GLENDALE – Jordan Martinook backhanded a loose puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his first NHL goal on Saturday night at Gila River Arena. It wasn’t pretty, but it turned out to be the game-winning goal in Arizona’s 2-1 victory.
“It’s incredible to have an impact on the team, that’s what I want to accomplish every night,” Martinook said. “Some nights it’s not going to be scoring goals, but when you get to score a goal it’s pretty special, especially the first one in the NHL. Nothing beats that. I’m pretty excited.”
Martinook earned a roster spot with the Coyotes by wowing management with his hard work and determination in the preseason. Head Coach Dave Tippett called him “the best forward in training camp.”
This stint with the Coyotes is his third with the team and Saturday’s game was his second of the season and his 10th in the League. Arizona (2-0-0) lost all eight games he played last season.
“I just feel like I’m a stronger player and I fit in better with this group,” Martinook said. “I feel like last year when I came in it was a tough situation to come into and this year we’ve started out fresh. I didn’t get a win when I was here last year so to come up and get two wins to start the season, you couldn’t ask for more.”
Martinook spent the past three seasons playing in the American Hockey League where he notched 38 goals in 182 regular-season games. On Saturday, Martinook took five shots on goal in 11:02. He scored his goal at 7:29 of the second period.
Martinook said his parents were watching the game in the basement of their home with about 40 friends and family members.
“She was cooking all day,” he said about his mom.
► Tobias Rieder scored Arizona’s first goal at 5:00 of the second period off a nice pass from Anthony Duclair. It was Rieder’s second goal of the season, and his two-game goal streak matches a career-high he set in his rookie season.
Rieder is enjoying playing on a line with Duclair and center Martin Hanzal.
“It’s a great line,” Rieder said. “Marty does all the dirty work. He’s great in our own zone and in the corners, and Anthony is a really fast, really smart guy. We play well with each other. I got lucky twice and the puck found me. It’s been a good start.”
Rieder notched a goal and an assist in the season opener at Los Angeles on Friday night. He has scored 15 NHL goals, with three coming vs. Pittsburgh in three games played against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, et al.
“It’s fun playing against those players,” Rieder said. “You always want to show them how good you are… I just feel really good every time we play against them and I get the lucky bounces.”
►Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who scored a goal and was plus-3 in the season opener on Friday night, was a late scratch vs. Pittsburgh because of an upper-body injury. Michalek skated in warm-ups but did not feel well enough to play. He is considered day-to-day.
Stefan Elliott, whom the Coyotes acquired in an off-season trade with Colorado for defenseman Brandon Gormley, took Michalek’s place in the lineup. Paired with Klas Dahlbeck, Elliott, who co-led AHL defensemen with 19 goals last season, played 12:58, took two shots on goal, blocked two shots and was called for two penalties in the first period.
Head Coach Dave Tippett liked what he saw from Elliott in the understudy role.
“It’s tough to jump in (to the lineup) last minute, but I thought he was all right,” Tippett said. “He had a couple chances in the first period and that’s what he is, he’s an opportunistic defenseman. He moves the puck pretty well. It was a tough situation but he jumped in and played well.”
► Goalie Mike Smith needed time to compose himself after colliding with teammate Brad Richardson in the first period. Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist shoved Richardson into Smith and was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference. Smith stayed down on the ice for a few minutes but eventually got to his feet and kept playing.
“I’m all for guys going to the net hard,” Smith said. “It’s part of the game. But when you’re throwing our guys on top of me when I’ve got my head down, I think that’s pretty classless.”
► The last time the Coyotes started a season 2-0-0 was in 2009-10 when they beat Los Angeles and Pittsburgh in the first two games - just like this season.
► Captain Shane Doan played 18:36 on his 39th birthday.
► Center Martin Hanzal won 10 of 15 face-offs and has won 17 of 25 draws in the first two games. That’s a 68 percent success rate.