Arizona Coyotes center Barrett Hayton finally made his return to the lineup against the Vegas Golden Knights last night after missing nearly three months with an upper-body injury.
On Thursday morning, Hayton practiced without a non-contact jersey before Coyotes head coach André Tourigny gave him the green light to play Vegas.
In the 3-2 loss to the Golden Knights, the 23-year-old logged 13:17 of time-on-ice and won 8-of-10 (80%) face-offs that he took.
“It’s been a while, it’s great to be back there and compete,” Hayton said after his first game back. “Obviously, not the way you want to come back. It’s been a long time. It’s the longest time I have been out in my career, so it’s something where I have been chomping at the bit to get back and compete. Every game through this stretch is so important and it really kills you missing games and not being able to help your team.”
*Video via Arizona Coyotes Public Relations X (formerly Twitter) account @AZCoyotesPR*
Forward Barrett Hayton, Defenseman Matt Dumba, and Head Coach André Tourigny Speak to the Media Following Tonight's Game vs the Vegas Golden Knights. ⤵️https://t.co/3Ga5uccyCA
— Arizona Coyotes PR (@AZCoyotesPR) February 9, 2024
Skating with Logan Cooley and Dylan Guenther, Hayton unlocked some unknown chemistry with them despite not registering a point to show for it.
The trio aggressively chased after the puck, sustained offensive zone pressure and formulated a few opportunities to score.
“It was great,” Hayton said. “They are unbelievable young talents and I think in a couple of those games heading into the stretch, you could see their games come together, build some chemistry and stuff. Yeah, I was glad to be able to jump in with those guys.”
Centering between Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz prior to his injury, Hayton had two goals and two assists in 16 games to start the season on the first line.
As he gets back into the swing of things, Hayton could gradually see a bump in his playing time before the regular season wraps up.