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'Yotes Notes: Stepan Glad First Game vs. Rangers is History

Coyotes center Derek Stepan said playing his former team for the first time was a challenge

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

NEW YORK -- Center Derek Stepan didn't like the way he performed for the Coyotes in his homecoming game against the New York Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

New York won 5-2.

Stepan played 20:21 against the team that drafted him 51st overall in 2008. He took just one shot on goal, won just 8 of 21 face-offs and finished the game minus-3.

"It was a lot," Stepan said. "I mean, it was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do in my career playing in this game. I thought it took me a period and a half to get going a little bit. Mentally, I wasn't sharp, it was just hard to stay focused. Like I said, it was one of the hardest things I've had to do and I'm glad that it's over with and I can move on now."

Video: Stepan: 'We Started Chasing the Game'

The Rangers played a montage of Stepan highlights from his seven years with the team on the video board during a break at 15:06 of the first period. After the video, the fans gave Stepan a rousing standing ovation. He acknowledged them by tapping his chest and raising his stick.

"I've played in so many games here and it's not easy to leave a fan base that treated me so well," Stepan said, before the game. 

Video: ARI@NYR: Rangers honor Stepan's career as a Blueshirt

Rookie Clayton Keller, who plays on Arizona's top line with Stepan, said the team wanted to play well for their alternate captain on his special night.

"He's our leader, and we said before the game that we wanted to get a win for him in this building, and unfortunately we couldn't do that," Keller said. "He's a heck of a player, had a tremendous career here with the Rangers. It means so much that he came to our team and he's been the best leader I've been around. He's a great guy."

Video: Keller: 'Nobody Here Wants to Lose'

• Keller scored his seventh goal of the season during a power play in the third period to extend his point streak to a career-high four games. Keller is leading all NHL rookies in goals and points (11).

• Here's Head Coach Rick Tocchet's take on the 5-2 loss, which started with Arizona trailing 2-0 after one period:

"You can't give them freebies," Tocchet said. "It's hard because you're chasing the game. Now we have to get away from our system and chase sticks because we are down again. But I liked our third period. We had a talk after the second and I saw some guys getting back in that system. Their hearts are in the right direction, but when you give them a couple of free goals, they think about how we are going to get back in the game. That's what happened tonight."

Brendan Perlini returned to the lineup after missing six games because of an upper-body injury suffered Oct. 10.

Playing on a line with Christian Dvorak and Tobias Rieder, Perlini skated 14:36, took three shots and delivered four hits.

"For a guy that's been out that long, coming off a concussion, I thought he was OK," Tocchet said of Perlini. "(He had) some timing issues and stuff like that, but that line, they gave us a little bit of juice. They were OK."

Anthony Duclair, like Stepan a former member of the New York Rangers, scored Arizona's first goal at 5:13 of the second period. The goal was Duclair's third of the season. He scored five all of last season.

"At this point, we have zero wins in 10 games," Duclair said. "You don't even care about personal stats or stuff like that. We just need to get a win. We've got one point right now. We're dead last in the League ... There's a lot of things we need to fix. It's just frustrating right now."

• Rookie goalie Adin Hill made his third NHL start and stopped 25 of 29 shots. 

Antti Raanta, Arizona's starter on the depth chart, missed his seventh game because of a lower-body injury.

Raanta skated at Madison Square Garden early Thursday for nearly an hour.

"The last couple days have been better," Raanta said. "It's been better on the ice and we've been working harder and putting more pressure on the body. I've started to get more shots (on goal) and just feel how it is. It's been good. It's still a little process there, but hopefully we can go sooner than later. We just want to make sure everything is good to go. We don't want to rush it."

• With the loss, the Coyotes dropped to 0-6-3 in their past nine games at Madison Square Garden. They last beat the Rangers in New York on Dec. 16, 2007.

Video: Tocchet: 'You Can't Give Freebies' 

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