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'Yotes Notes: Raanta Solid in Debut with Coyotes

New Arizona goalie Antti Raanta made 40 saves in OT loss to Vegas

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

GLENDALE -- Goalie Antti Raanta made 40 saves in his first game with the Coyotes on Saturday night, but the Vegas Golden Knights scored a goal late in the third period and another in overtime to spoil his debut with Arizona at Gila River Arena.

Vegas won, 2-1, thanks to a goal by James Neal scored from in front of Arizona's net at 3:46 of OT. 

Raanta, whom the Coyotes acquired via a trade with the New York Rangers in June, was stellar in his first game, especially in the second period when he stopped all 18 shots he faced to keep the Coyotes ahead 1-0.

"It's tough," Raanta said. "You get so close to winning the game 1-0. It was a little bit (of a) bouncing puck there, five, six guys in slow motion kind of ... That wasn't the shot their guy was trying, but that's what happens sometimes ... We need to learn from this. The second period wasn't good at all and the third period was really good. So, we need to learn to get 60 minutes going."

Before the game, Head Coach Rick Tocchet worried about Raanta perhaps being rusty; he played only two periods in the preseason because of a lower-body injury. But Raanta proved to be up for the challenge of playing for his new team in front of a sell-out crowd.

"He was great," Tocchet said. "He kept us in the game for some stretches in the second. I don't think they had a ton of (scoring chances), but I know when they did, Antti was superb."

Vegas forward Nate Schmidt tied the score, 1-1, with 1:12 left in the third period as the Golden Knights skated with an extra attacker/empty net. Tocchet challenged the goal citing goaltender interference, but the goal was allowed after a quick video review.

"When you watch it from the replay you kind of see their guy in the blue paint, but I don't know," Raanta said. "Everything happened so quickly so you kind of try to find the puck, and a little bit loss of balance there, so I couldn't get quick enough to the post. I don't know if their guy was the reason for it, but sometimes those (challenges) go your way. But it would be too good to be true to get the coach's challenge and get a shutout from that." 

Raanta's record is 3-10 in 13 overtime games he's played in the NHL.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson was not pleased to see Arizona enter the third period with a one-goal lead and lose for the second time in two games this season. Like they did in the season opener at Anaheim, the Coyotes allowed their opponent to score late.

"It was the same as in the first game - we stopped playing a little bit instead of keep pushing for the next goal," Ekman-Larsson said. "We backed off ... I think we should be happy with one point. Raanta was standing on his head for two periods and we didn't help him out, so we should be happy about one point tonight."

Video: Oliver Ekman-Larsson Postgame Comments

• Tocchet, coaching his first home game as head coach, also is disturbed by Arizona's inability to close out games in the young season.

"We are preaching it and we have to keep working at it," Tocchet said. "I liked the first part of the game ... I thought we had a better third. Obviously, overtime we had a bunch of chances, but there was that middle part of the game where we sat back."

Video: Rick Tocchet Postgame Comments

Tobias Rieder, who scored Arizona's lone goal at 5:52 of the first period, said overtime is a crapshoot. 

"You know there's only six players on the ice in overtime, so you never know what's going to happen," Rieder said. "There might be one bounce and all of a sudden there's a two-on-one the other way. It's kind of a luck game ... They got kind of a lucky goal there."

Video: VGK@ARI: Rieder sends home rebound to open scoring

• Leading 1-0, Arizona killed a lengthy five-on-three disadvantage in the second period. Through two games, the Coyotes are 8 for 8 as penalty killers.

• Forward Nick Cousins played 13:09 and took three shots on goal in his first game with Arizona. Cousins, who was a healthy scratch in the season opener at Anaheim, replaced Christian Fischer in the lineup.

Derek Stepan again wore the rotating third 'A' for the game. Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson are wearing the 'A' on a permanent basis this season.

• With the loss, Arizona dropped to 14-5-2 in home openers since moving from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996.

• To help usher in the new season, Coyotes players and broadcasters entered Gila River Arena by walking a red carpet that cut through a mass of fans awaiting their arrival. All involved stopped during the walk to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. 

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