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Coyotes Heartbreaker in California

© Eli Imadali, Eli Imadali/The Republic, Arizona Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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With having a lead with less than 40 seconds left in the game, the Arizona Coyotes gave up two late goals in the third period as the Anaheim Ducks came away with a 5-4 preseason victory at Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs, California on Oct. 9.

After the 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sept. 29 featured a lineup of mostly prospects and minor leaguers, the Coyotes fielded more than half of the projected lineup for the 2023-24 regular season, sprinkled in with a few players who are trying to make the roster.

First Period

Last game, Arizona only had 3 shots in the first period, but the offense came out firing early against the Ducks.

Looking to lockdown a starting spot in Arizona’s lineup, 2022-23 AHL scoring champion Michael Carcone put the ‘Yotes on the board first at 9:20.

On the power-play, Carcone received a pass from the corner by former Arizona State Sun Devil Josh Doan before spinning on the goal-line and ripping the puck, from a bad angle, by Anaheim goaltender Lukáš Dostál to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.

Following the first goal, an offensive gauntlet ensued.

Ducks center Glenn Gawdin skated into the offensive zone and found teammate Ryan Strome open for a one-timer and Strome buried it to tie the game 1-1 13:57 into the first period.

Then lead flipped back in the Coyotes favor.

Arizona forward Zach Sanford would spin like Carcone, but from the top of right face-off circle this time, and scored as the Coyotes went up 3-1 with 2:10 left in the first.

Soon after, Coyotes would lead the game 3-1 1:05 later as Doan would get his second assist of the game after he passed the puck to Jan Jenik who, from a sharp angle, sniped it over Dostál’s shoulder.

15 seconds later at 19:10, however, new Coyotes defenseman Matt Dumba skated with the puck behind the Arizona goal, but was quickly intercepted by Strome.

“Desert Dogs” goaltender Karel Vejmelka tried to use his stick and poke the puck away from Strome, but the Ducks forward dragged it past Vejmelka before burying it to cut the “Yotes down to 3-2 before the end of the first period.

The Coyotes outshot the Ducks 9-7 in the first 20 minutes.

Second Period

The offense didn’t stop in the second frame either.

After a few early chances for Arizona, Anaheim’s Benoit-Olivier Groulx picked the puck after it was initially blocked by a crowd of players in front of Vejmelka and snapped past the Coyotes goalie to tie the game up yet again, 3-3 at 11:12.

Another power-play opportunity was handed to the Coyotes and they made the Ducks pay again at 15:35.

Former 3rd overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft Logan Cooley skated across the wall and gave it to Durzi at the point.

Quickly, Durzi passed the puck back to Cooley who shot the puck before ‘Yotes forward Dylan Guenther potted home the rebound to hand Arizona a 4-3 advantage.

Third Period

Things got chippy in the third frame at the beginning.

Former Coyote Zack Kassian and current ‘Yotes forward Jack McBain got into a skirmish after McBain poked Dostál.

A few other minor penalties ensued before at 16:34 in the third, Duck’s Scott Harrington and former Anaheim player Justin Kirkland got into a fight near center ice after a few words were said to each other.

The Ducks pulled Dostál for an extra attacker and the 6-on-5 advantage worked.

With 34.8 remaining in the game, Anaheim prospect Tristan Luneau found teammate Troy Terry open and blasted it past Vejmelka’s blocker to tie the game up 4-4.

As the time was running down towards a possible overtime, Ducks defenseman Robert Hagg fired a long-range wrist-shot and scored as Anaheim came from behind to gain their first lead of the game 5-4 with 15.7 seconds left.

Final Stats

The Coyotes outshot Anaheim 28-22.

Arizona went 2-for-3 on the power play while the Ducks were 0-for-3.

Josh Doan led the Coyotes in points with two assists while Hagg had a goal and an assist and Strome scored twice for Anaheim.

After a shaky start, Dostál kept the Ducks in the game as he made 24 saves on 28 shots in the victory.

As for Vejmelka, he stopped 17 shots out of a possible 22 for Arizona.

These two teams will play each other again at the Ducks home, Honda Center on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

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Alec Cipollini is a journalist covering the Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Rising for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his new X account @AlecCipollini

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