TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Keller and Jason Zucker scored goals, Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves, and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in their home opener on Saturday.
The Coyotes (3-2) have won three of their first five games for the first time since the 2015-16 season when they won their first three, and they won their home opener for the first time since 2016-17.
“So far, so good,” said Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny, home after a four-game road trip that included victories over New Jersey and St. Louis and one-goal losses to the Rangers and Islanders. “We had really good opponents in that stretch. The New York teams are elite teams. I’ll take it.”
Frank Vatrano tipped in a cross-ice pass from Jakob Silfverberg for his fourth goal of the season on a power play to cut the Coyotes’ lead to 2-1 at 7:47 of the third period.
The Ducks pulled goaltender Lukas Dostal with two minutes remaining but could not score again in a contentious game that included 14 penalties, eight by Anaheim.
“We want to be competitive,” Vatrano said. ”We want to be hard to play against. Sometimes the calls don’t go your way. We’re not going to change the way we play. We just have to do it a little smarter.”
Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien and Ducks forward Ross Johnston were given five-minute fighting penalties for a scrap that knocked the goal off its moorings midway through the second period.
“We knew what Anaheim would bring,” Tourigny said. “They were really aggressive on the forecheck. It’s really draining physically. There are a lot of emotions in that game. You can lose your focus. I really loved the way our guys reacted. They pushed through and found a way to win.”
Zucker scored on a quick wrist shot from the top of the right circle that squeaked under Dostal’s glove for a 1-0 lead with 2:19 remaining in the first period, nine seconds into a power play.
Dostal saved two shots from Nick Schmaltz from point-blank range minutes earlier on the first of the Coyotes’ two power plays.
Keller gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle at 14:01 of the second period. The Coyotes spent almost a minute working the puck around in their zone before Keller’s score, after a delayed penalty call enabled them to pull Vejmelka for an extra skater.
“We had a really good possession, and that opened up play for us,” Tourigny said.
The Ducks put their most consistent pressure on Vejmelka during a power play early in the second period. Vejmelka turned aside three shots, two by Trevor Zegras, and the defense blocked three others in the first 80 seconds.
“He played a great game,” Vatrano said of Vejmelka.
HOME STILL HOME
The Coyotes, 21-15-5 at home a year ago, began their second season at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus without a permanent home. Tempe voters last spring rejected a proposed development that would have included a 16,000-seat arena and an entertainment district west of downtown.
“We are using all our resources to secure a new permanent home that will be the envy of Arizona and all of the NHL,” Coyotes chairman Alex Meruelo said in a letter to fans two weeks ago. “Know this: we have left no potential option unturned. The Valley is where the organization and I want to be. My family lives here. We are all in.”
The Ducks have six rookies on the roster, the most in the league, and also have the most players who are 19 and under (three), 20 and under (four), and 22 and under (seven). Leo Carlsson, at 18 years and 297 days, is the third-youngest player in the league and the third-youngest player in Ducks’ history.
“You have to learn as you go,” Vatrano said. “Sometimes it’s going to be tough to hear things you don’t want to hear, but it’s only going to help those guys in the long run. Everyone’s been through it. We have to have each other’s back.”
Ducks F Brock McGinn (lower body), C Alex Killorn (broken finger) and D Jamie Drysdale (lower body) were held out. Killorn has 198 career goals. … C Adam Henrique returned after missing the last game with an illness.
Coyotes F Michael Carcone left the ice with 40.1 seconds left in the first period and did not return after taking a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Rakio Gudas. … Zucker had only 5:33 of ice time before leaving with a lower body injury. … The Coyotes practiced at Mullett on Friday, their first time on home ice. They opening training camp in Australia.