GLENDALE – Forward Tobias Rieder joined a unique club on Sunday night.
Rieder, whom Arizona had recalled from the American Hockey League earlier in the day, became the eighth Coyotes player to score a goal in his NHL debut, joining Ossi Vaananen (2000), Keith Ballard (2005), Yanick Lehoux (2005), Daniel Winnik (2007), Brett MacLean (2010), Connor Murphy (2013) and Justin Hodgman (2014). Nineteen players have accomplished the feat in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise history.
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"It was tough going to bed (Saturday) night - I'm not going to lie," Rieder said after notching the game-winning goal on Sunday in a 6-5 win at the Washington Capitals. "I think I haven't really realized it. This is a dream come true."
Per Elias, Tobias Rieder is the first German-born player to score in his NHL debut since Oct. 4, 1997, when Marco Sturm, his idol, scored for San Jose.
Rieder arrived in Washington, D.C., about seven hours before puck drop at Verizon Center. When he saw that he was slotted to play on the team’s top line alongside center Antoine Vermette and captain Shane Doan he did a classic double take at the lineup board.
"I couldn’t believe it at first," Rieder said. "I thought it was a mistake. I checked my number again. It was great playing with those guys. They are hardworking guys and really skilled guys so they made my life easy out there. Obviously the first couple of shifts were a bit shaky, you’re a little bit nervous, a lot nervous, but after that it just goes by and you just think about your game."
Rieder scored his goal in the third period on a two-on-one rush with Doan on Capitals goalie Justin Peters.
"I didn't expect that," Rieder said. "Obviously I just wanted to go out there and do my job and do the little things right, and it turned out to be a great game."
Head Coach Dave Tippett said Rieder should be proud of his play on Sunday.
"In his first NHL game, he drew two penalties (and) scored a goal," Tippett said. "(He) wasn’t intimidated by the situation one bit. That’s what we saw in training camp. He is a good, young player who plays a smart game (and) plays with good tempo and I thought he was a really nice fit on that line."
* Forward Sam Gagner also notched his first goal with the Coyotes in Sunday’s game – ending a 10-game goal-scoring drought to start his first season with Arizona.
"It's a good feeling to help out in a win," Gagner said. "Hopefully I keep it going here."
Gagner played center in Sunday’s game with speedy wingers Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski.
"I thought our line was creating chances," Gagner said. "…We wanted to stick with that. I think on this trip we hadn't really done a good job of sticking with it and being positive and believing that it will come, and today we did that and we got rewarded for it."
* Shane Doan scored two goals in Sunday’s win. It marked the 45th time in his NHL career Doan scored two goals in one game. He also has one NHL hat trick on his resume.
* The Coyotes scored two of their six goals on the power play. Eleven games into the season, Arizona ranks fourth in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 26.4 percent.
"Our power play’s been great all year," Doan said. "Our first three goals (on Sunday) were pretty much on the power play. The second one was right when the guy stepped out of the box. For all intents and purposes, that’s three power-play goals. We had to find a way to generate something five-on-five, and that momentum the power play gives right before the (second) period (ends) is huge."