The Anaheim Ducks hope their offense can take some pressure off goalie John Gibson when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
The Ducks finally tallied more than two goals in a game this season when Hampus Lindholm scored into an empty net to finish off the visiting Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Sunday night.
Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell, two of the top goal scorers for the Ducks the past five seasons, notched their first goals of the season on Sunday and coach Dallas Eakins hopes that’s the beginning of an offensive flourish.
“Anytime players like that can pick up a point, or score a goal, it’s just a massive weight lifted off their shoulders,” Eakins said. “They carry it because they care, and they carry it because they know there’s an expectation there.”
The Coyotes are coming off four straight games against the Vegas Golden Knights. Arizona had a chance to even the series, but lost 1-0 at home on a controversial late goal on Sunday.
A few of the Coyotes thought Vegas had iced the puck on a dump in, causing them to ease up their pursuit. That opened the door for a Vegas player to retrieve the puck behind the Arizona net and pass out front to William Karlsson for the winning goal.
Arizona coach Rick Tocchet wants to put that loss behind him as soon as possible.
“We’ve got to get off this thing and get our energy level ready for Anaheim,” Tocchet said. “It’s a hard thing to do. … That game deserved to go to overtime.”
The Coyotes haven’t been as starved for goals as the Ducks, but they’ve been limited to two goals or fewer in three of the past four games.
“We’ve got some individuals that have to give us more,” Tocchet said.
Phil Kessel is among the Coyotes who are off to a good start, scoring four goals in the first four games.
Nick Schmaltz had a four-game point streak end on Sunday, and linemate Conor Garland already has two multi-point games.
They’ll likely have a tough time getting the puck past Gibson, who already has one shutout this season and came close to two others.
He made 32 saves on Sunday against the Avalanche, surrendering the lone goal with just under five minutes remaining.
Gibson has also played well against the Coyotes in his career, owning a 7-2-3 record with a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average, both better than his career marks.
Anaheim could provide Gibson with some much-needed cushion if Rakell, Silfverberg and the center on their line, Adam Henrique, can build off their recent success.
Henrique scored his first goal of the season on Friday night in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche. With Rakell and Silfverberg notching their first goals on Sunday, that line should have added confidence heading into Arizona.
“For me and (Silfverberg) to get our first goals, and getting more scoring chances and getting a little bit more comfortable with our offensive-zone plays and all that, that’s something we can work on and try to get better at,” Rakell said.
Eakins said he’s looking for offensive improvement across the board.
“If you had five points last year, can you get to 10? If you had 20, can you get to 25?” he said. “You’re just trying to pick up the pennies and try to get to the dollars.”
–Field Level Media