With something of a new lease on life, the Anaheim Ducks return from a long road trip and will play host to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Ducks, but they scored a combined 10 goals in back-to-back triumphs this week, including a most unexpected 5-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
The brief run of success started Tuesday with a 5-2 victory at Arizona. It is just the fourth time Anaheim has won back-to-back games all season. They have not won three in a row.
The Ducks have just one hat trick all season and it came from Frank Vatrano in Thursday's victory. It was his third career hat trick with one as a member of the Boston Bruins in December 2015 as a rookie and the other for the Florida Panthers in January 2020.
Adam Henrique and Mason McTavish had goals 24 seconds apart in the third period as the Ducks went a much-improved 3-2-1 on a road trip that started Jan. 16 with a 4-3 overtime defeat at Pittsburgh. That run came after the Ducks were a disappointing 3-6-1 on a franchise-record 10-game homestand.
"We wanted to be above .500 on this road trip (and) we were able to accomplish that," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. "But I think the biggest thing is our team beat the Stanley Cup champions, and we had to do it with a whole lot of sandpaper and hard work. And our guys should be proud of that."
After the game, the Avalanche were left to compliment the Ducks' third-period intensity. Henrique started a three-goal third with his 18th of the season with just over 10 minutes remaining to forge a 3-3 tie. McTavish added his 10th moments later, putting Anaheim on top for good.
Henrique has points in seven consecutive games (six goals, three assists).
After falling to the Ducks on Tuesday, the Coyotes rebounded in style Thursday to earn a 5-0 home victory over the St. Louis Blues. Arizona received its own hat trick from Nick Schmaltz, the first of his career, to give him 11 goals. He also added an assist.
"It's pretty cool," Schmaltz said of his natural hat trick. "It's always fun when you can score and contribute to a big win like that. It was a lot of fun out there and yeah, I'm happy to get the first hatty."
Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves for the Coyotes in his third shutout of the season.
"We played the right way, we played good defensively and we had great goaltending," Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. "St. Louis is dangerous on the rush, and we defended the rush pretty well. And we had an effort from everybody."
The victory was just the third in 15 games for the Coyotes, who will close out the season series against the Ducks at home on April 8.
The Ducks are in a stretch when they play eight of nine on the road, while the Coyotes are starting a run when they play four of five on the road.
--Field Level Media