Senators extend Coyotes’ losing streak to 7 games


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Mark Kastelic spent preparing for the game with family and friends. He autographed a hockey stick for a child during the pre-game warm-up, which he rarely does.

When the puck wasn’t in play, Kastelic would find himself surreptitiously glancing around at the crowd and even finding his mother in the corner.

Kastelic’s first NHL game in his hometown should definitely be memorable. He added the perfect topper to a perfect day by scoring the winning goal.

Kastelic scored in the third period to give Ottawa a two-goal lead and the Senators held on in a 5-3 win over his hometown Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

“It’s very surreal,” said Kastelic. “I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a kid. You’ve got a lot of ups and downs along the way, and I’m finally here. It was really something special.”

The Senators took an early lead by two goals and spent the rest of the evening fending off the troublesome Coyotes.

Brady Tkachuk, another Arizona native, and Derick Brassard both scored in a difficult first period that saw Arizona All-Star Clayton Keller review a game misconduct.

The Coyotes halved the two-goal deficit three times, most recently through Barrett Hayton’s backhander with 2:44 left. Arizona then pulled goalie Karel Vejmelka and sent a barrage of shots at Anton Forsberg, but Artem Zub hit in an empty net to end it.

Alex DeBrincat also scored and Forsberg stopped 27 shots.

“It’s hard to win in this league,” said Senators coach DJ Smith. “We’ve been in those games where we’ve been beaten up on the shot clock and you just stay in the game. You can’t cheat.”

The Coyotes made her work for it.

Arizona fought back with scuffles and timed goals after a shaky, penalty-filled first period. The Coyotes narrowly missed, extending their losing streak to seven games.

Dylan Guenther had a goal and an assist, and Lawson Crouse also scored for Arizona. Vejmelka had 42 saves.

“We made an effort tonight and came up a little short,” Crouse said. “We’re going through a difficult phase right now and we have to crack it.”

Tkachuk scored midway through the first period by hitting a rebound that flew high in the air. Keller was then sent off for retaliation after Erik Brannstrom hit him twice with his cane.

Brassard scored midway through the five-minute penalty, potting a loose puck after his detour went under Vejmelka. The Coyotes challenged an interference from the goaltender, but it was upheld after review.

“It was a difficult decision but we felt we had to try because it was a game-changer,” said Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny. “The guys reacted really well.”

Günther made a power play midway through the second period by deflecting a shot from the right circle over Forsberg’s stick shoulder.

DeBrincat again gave Ottawa a two-goal lead late in the third period by poking a puck under Vejmelka until he forced it into the goal.

The Coyotes were still struggling.

Arizona withstood a long shift on their own end and Crouse cut Ottawa’s lead to 3-2 with a tap-in goal from a Nick Bjugstad pass.

Kastelic scored midway through the third period, redirecting a pass from Jake Sanderson after the Coyotes flipped it behind their goal.

In the end it was the winning goal – no less in his hometown.

SMITHS 100

Smith was hired in 2019 after Guy Boucher was fired the previous season.

Progress has been slow, but Smith hit a milestone Thursday night: 100 career wins.

“It probably took a little longer than I wanted, but we’re hoping for many more,” said Smith, who is 100-123-27 in four seasons with Ottaway.

NOTES: Coyotes D Troy Strecher was playing his 400th NHL game. … Ottawa F Mathieu Joseph was with the team in Arizona but didn’t play. He has been out since December 8 with a lower body injury. … Vejmelka is 0-5 and conceded 21 goals in January … The Senators ended a four-game losing streak in Arizona. … Arizona D. Shayne Gostisbehere was hit by a 10-minute play error after Zub’s goal.

NEXT

Senators: In Colorado on Saturday night.

Coyotes: Saturday night in Minnesota.

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