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‘Yotes Notes: Penalty Killers Key Win Over Habs

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes were called for five minor penalties on Thursday night vs. the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. But Arizona’s penalty killers were up to the challenge, and the Coyotes won 3-2.

The Canadiens, who entered the game ranked fourth in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 23.9 percent, failed to score on all five power plays as the Coyotes held them to just four shots on goal in 10:00 of power-play time.

“That’s an area we’ve got to correct,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “We’re taking too many minor penalties, but our penalty killing was strong and it started with Mike Smith in net. He was very strong. I give our guys credit.”

Smith finished the game with 31 saves and was named the No. 1 Star.

“The penalty kill was fantastic,” Smith said. “It’s been good most of the year. Tonight was another night where you’re facing a top power play in the league, lots of great skilled players. I thought the guys were committed to blocking shots and to getting in the way of pucks and bodies and make it easy on me.”

• After 12 games, center Martin Hanzal was starting to wonder if he’d ever score a goal this season. On Thursday, Hanzal notched his fourth goal in the past five games.

Rookie Anthony Duclair, playing in front of about 20 friends and family members from his nearby hometown, set up Hanzal’s goal by skating the puck up the left wing and attempting a wrap-around goal. Canadiens goalie Tom Condon stopped Duclair’s bid but Hanzal banged home the rebound at 5:04 of the first period to give the Coyotes their first 1-0 lead since Nov. 6 – a span of six games.

Hanzal leads the Coyotes with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 17 games.

Shane Doan scored his fifth goal of the season at 9:17 of the first period when he swatted a rebound in mid-air past Condon and into Montreal’s net. The manner in which Doan scored prompted Tippett to joke to reporters after the game that Doan must like baseball.

“I love baseball,” Doan said when told what his coach told reporters. “Goldy’s my hero, so I want to be like Goldy.”

“Goldy,” of course, is Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, a friend of Doan’s who on Thursday was named the runner-up for the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

• Smith was credited with an assist on Doan’s goal for his first point of the season.

• Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored an unassisted power-play goal at 3:51 of the second period to extend his point streak to a career-high seven games.

• The Coyotes improved to 8-0-0 in games in which they led after two periods.

Klas Dahlbeck, who entered the game leading rookie defensemen in hits, delivered eight more vs. Montreal. He has 45 on the season.

• With wins at Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, the Coyotes have won their first three road games in Canada to begin a season for the first time since 1981, when the franchise was based in Winnipeg.

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