The Arizona Coyotes begin life on the road Saturday night when they open a one-month, 14-game trek against the Washington Capitals.
The 14-game road trip ties the longest in NHL history. The Canucks also had a 14-game trip scheduled during the 2009-10 season in order to accommodate the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Coyotes’ extended stay is necessary as the locker rooms at Mullett Arena are completed to NHL specifications. The team’s new temporary home venue is on the campus of Arizona State University, with Arizona’s next home game set for Dec. 9 against the Boston Bruins.
The Coyotes limped out of the blocks in their last home game on Thursday, surrendering four first-period goals en route to a 7-2 setback to the Dallas Stars.
“We got outplayed in the first period,” the Coyotes’ Lawson Crouse said. “It’s as simple as that. We got outworked. They put up four and then we’re chasing the game.”
Crouse has scored in three straight games to boost his team-leading goal total to five on the season.
Crouse and the Coyotes were unable to register any semblance of offense in their two meetings with the Capitals in 2021-22. Washington recorded a pair of 2-0 decisions to sweep the season series, with superstar captain Alex Ovechkin scoring one into an empty net to seal one of the victories.
Over the past week, the Capitals have scored just five goals during the team’s three-game winless skid (0-1-2) — including Ovechkin’s tally in the second period of a 3-1 setback at the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Ovechkin’s goal was his 786th in 1,286 games with Washington, tying Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for the most scored for one NHL team. Howe scored 786 of his 801 career goals while playing in 1,687 games with the Red Wings from 1946-71.
“Yeah, it’s huge, obviously,” the 37-year-old Ovechkin said. “I played my whole career here in Washington. Tied with a legend, it’s a pretty big number, and it’s a pretty cool accomplishment.”
Ovechkin has scored four of his team-leading six goals in his last six games. He has nine goals in 22 career games against the Arizona franchise, including a memorable one on Jan. 16, 2006, against the then-Phoenix Coyotes in which he tallied while sliding on his back.
Russian countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov set up Ovechkin on Thursday to record his seventh assist, tying him with Dylan Strome for top honors on the team.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper remains optimistic that the Capitals’ fortunes will turn for the better — and soon.
“I think that’s a credit to the guys, that we’ve been in every game,” Kuemper said. “Every night it feels like we’re giving ourselves a chance. That’s what you want to do, and if we keep doing that, outcomes will start coming our way.”
Kuemper hopes the positive results begin Saturday against a team with which he played in parts of four seasons. He has also dominated the Coyotes in his career.
The 32-year-old sports a 5-0-3 record with three shutouts, a 1.11 goals-against average and .955 save percentage versus Arizona.
–Field Level Media