Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet isn’t exactly known for his patience, and what little he has is being tested after seeing his team squander leads in back-to-back losses.
The Coyotes aim to get back on track Saturday night when they host the Minnesota Wild in Glendale, Ariz.
“We’re giving points away. We had Calgary up 3-1 in the third (period of a 4-3 overtime loss on Tuesday), and this one, we’re up 2-1,” Tocchet said following Thursday’s 3-2 setback to the Blue Jackets. “It wasn’t what Columbus was doing, it was us shooting ourselves in the foot. … Too many dumb penalties. And we have to have guys step up.”
The Coyotes were unable to step up during a two-man advantage late in the game with former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper pulled for an extra attacker.
“That (power play) was not good, and we have some good players out there,” Tocchet said. “Somebody’s got to take the puck in the middle and shoot the puck. We haven’t been good on the 6-on-5 since I’ve been here, and it’s starting to really bother me.”
Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is known for a calmer demeanor, opted to put his focus on the future.
“The next game is going to be huge for us to bounce back and get a win,” the 28-year-old Swede said. “We’re not going to use the schedule as an excuse, we’ve talked about that; we just want to play good hockey and get some wins, and that’s what we need to get back to. It starts on Saturday.”
Arizona has dropped two in a row for the first time since opening the season with two straight losses. The Coyotes will look to nip this in the bud vs. the Wild, who sport a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games in the Grand Canyon State.
Minnesota, however, fell for the fourth time in five outings overall (1-3-1) with a 6-5 setback against San Jose on Thursday.
The Wild nearly overcame a four-goal deficit in the third period before succumbing to the Sharks. They fell to 2-9-0 on the road to start a season in which they play 13 of their first 18 games away from home.
“I thought there was a chance,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Like I told them in between the second and third, this isn’t over.”
Eric Staal knows that all too well, as the 35-year-old continues to put his early season struggles in his rearview mirror by extending his point streak to six games (four goals, five assists).
“You’ve got to keep playing. We had plenty of chances to tie the game,” said Staal, who scored a goal and set up two others against San Jose.
“We hit a post, and we just didn’t get that last one to get a tie. But you got to keep playing.”
Staal has collected 14 goals and 20 points in 23 career contests against Arizona while fellow forward Zach Parise (11 goals, eight assists) has done well for himself in the same amount of games.
Mats Zuccarello notched an assist on Jason Zucker’s late third-period goal to boost his point streak to five games (three goals, three assists).
–Field Level Media