GLENDALE – The Coyotes reached the halfway point of the 2015-16 season with an impressive 4-0 win over Nashville on Saturday night at Gila River Arena to up their record to 21-16-4.
“I think everyone was doubting this team starting this season and even a couple of months ago,” said goalie Louis Domingue, who made 26 saves to notch his second NHL shutout. “Right now I think everybody in this room and everyone around the league are starting to take us seriously… We’re playing way better defensively than we were last year and I think we’re starting to really get confident with the way we play. We’re just so strong in every aspect.”
Forward Tobias Rieder, who notched two goals and one assist, said the Coyotes have shocked even themselves by ranking second in the Pacific Division standings after 41 games.
“It’s a little surprising,” Rieder said. “We knew we’ve got a high-skilled group but a young group at the same time, and nobody really knew where that was going. I think we’re all pretty happy with how it’s working out so far.”
Rieder scored his first goal via a deflection and his second into an empty-net late in the third period. His assist came on Antoine Vermette’s power-play goal in the first period.
“It was one of those games where the puck was just following you around,” Rieder said. “I was lucky to get two goals.”
Rieder has scored 12 of his last 15 goals at Gila River Arena and ranks second on the Coyotes with eight home goals.
• Rookie Anthony Duclair flashed some nifty stickwork to score a back-handed goal with 13.3 seconds left in the game.
“I saw (Predators goalie Carter Hutton) cheating on the blocker side so why not try the move,” Duclair said. “I don’t really practice it. The goalies would get mad in practice. It was just something that happened on the spot.”
Earlier in the game, Duclair was awarded a penalty shot at 2:13 of first period when Nashville’s Roman Josi hooked him on a breakaway. Hutton denied Duclair’s shot attempt with a blocker save, but Duclair clearly got the last laugh a few hours later.
• The Coyotes upped their home record to 11-4-2. Last season, they posted 11 home wins all season.
• Vermette scored a power-play goal at 3:35 of the second period. It was his first goal since Dec. 26 and the 200th of his NHL career in his 869th NHL game.
“I didn’t realize until they announced it (in the arena),” Vermette said. “I knew it was coming but it’s not something I was losing sleep over. It’s nice. It came in a big win and that’s the most important thing.”
Vermette credited Shane Doan for setting him up with a nice pass.
“It was a great read by Shane to not only send it back to the net but to have the presence of mind to send it off behind the opponent,” Vermette said. “I hope I can get 200 more like that. It was a pretty good play by him.”
• With the win, Domingue becomes the first rookie in Coyotes history to win three consecutive games.
“I’m not thinking about the results too much,” Domingue said. “I’m just going out there and playing confident and trying to give the team a chance to win every night. That’s what I do. I’m not thinking too far ahead or behind.”
• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek returned to the lineup after missing the past week because of an upper-body injury. He played 17:32 and blocked two shots to raise his season total to 58.