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game recap

Gibson makes 32 saves, Ducks defeat Coyotes in season opener

Fowler scores go-ahead goal late in second; Kessel has assist in Arizona debut

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Gibson's huge save through screen

ARI@ANA: Gibson turns away heavy slap shot

John Gibson fights through a screen to knock down Alex Goligoski's one-timer midway through the 3rd period

  • 00:25 •

ANAHEIM -- John Gibson made 32 saves for the Anaheim Ducks in a 2-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes in the season opener for each team at Honda Center on Thursday.

Derek Grant and Cam Fowler scored for the Ducks in Dallas Eakins' first game as their coach.

"It's always nice to start the season off on a win," Gibson said. "It's a big, special night for us and our fans. It's nice to give them a win. We just played our game. We came out a little bit slow, but I think as the game went on, we got stronger."

 

[WATCH: All Coyotes vs. Ducks highlights]

 

Derek Stepan scored, and Phil Kessel had an assist in his first game with the Coyotes after being acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29. Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves.

"I really liked our effort," Kuemper said. "I thought the guys were really amped up, ready to play. Overall, I thought our structure was really good. It was just one of those games that was kind of tight both ways, and obviously the goal late in the period killed us."

Fowler gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead with 32 seconds left in the second period. He skated around Coyotes forward Vinnie Hinostroza after taking a pass from Carter Rowney and shot through traffic from the bottom of the left face-off circle, scoring into the far corner.

Video: ARI@ANA: Fowler uses tremendous skill to roof wrister

"Well, it's huge," Eakins said. "Any time you can get one of those late in a period like that, it's such a great feeling walking into the room. I thought we had played much better in the second period and to get rewarded like that is big. We have asked Cam to get up the ice, and he was up, up, up the ice, and he made a great, great play on that goal."

Stepan tied the game 1-1 at 9:03 of the second. Kessel slid a pass from the slot to Stepan in the left circle on the rush, and he scored high to the short side.

"You know, I thought we played pretty well tonight," Kessel said. "We were skating, just one of those nights where we couldn't get more than one."

Video: ARI@ANA: Stepan one-times Kessel's feed

Grant scored to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first period.

"He was excellent," Eakins said of Grant's play on the fourth line with Rowney and Devin Shore.

Video: ARI@ANA: Grant slides home rebound on the break

 

They said it

"I thought we were OK defensively, obviously you've got to score goals. We had some chances, we had some good possession time, but it was sloppy, too many giveaways." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet

"It's probably not the best game we have played in a little bit. I thought we were a little jittery early. I thought our arousal rate was a little high. The crowd was very much into the game and I thought that had an effect on us, but it was probably the way we settled down, took a breath and got our feet underneath us." -- Ducks coach Dallas Eakins

 

Need to know

Tocchet is 0-3-0 in season openers with the Coyotes. ... The Ducks have won three straight season openers for the first time in their history. ... It was Eakins' first game as an NHL coach since Dec. 14, 2014, with the Edmonton Oilers. ... It was the 14th game-winning goal of Fowler's NHL career, passing Scott Niedermayer for most by a defenseman in Anaheim history. ... Fowler is one goal from tying Niedermayer (60) for most by a Ducks defenseman. ... Anaheim is 7-1-3 in its past 11 home games against Arizona.

 

What's next

Coyotes: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-A, FS-A PLUS, NESN, NHL.TV)

Ducks: Host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)

Video: Gibson, Ducks edge Coyotes in opener

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