GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dave Tippett’s decision to put newcomer Alex Tanguay on the same line as veteran centre Antoine Vermette and speedy youngster Anthony Duclair paid off in a big way for the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
Tanguay, acquired from Colorado on Feb. 29, scored two goals and added an assist in his Coyotes debut. Vermette had a goal and three assists and Arizona ended a season-high seven-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Duclair added two assists as the three linemates combined for the last two goals for the Coyotes.
“I was extremely nervous. Couldn’t catch my breath out there,” Tanguay said. “I was looking forward to playing well and got a little lucky. Teammates played great, gave me the puck in great opportunities and happy we got the win.”
After a scoreless first period, it took the Coyotes 29 seconds to take the lead. Martinook got loose on a short-handed breakaway and beat Al Montoya to the stick side. The Coyotes scored again at 5:36 of the second period, with Tanguay taking a backhand pass from Vermette and putting the puck in the net for a 2-0 Arizona lead.
“He’s a good veteran player. He’s won before,” Tippett said of Tanguay, who is 36 and in his 17th NHL season. “He’s a very positive guy, wants to pay back some of the lessons that he’s learned over his career.”
Florida cut the lead to one on Aaron Ekblad‘s goal at 17:28 of the second period. It came with a player from each team in the penalty box for roughing.
Jussi Jokinen got the assist on Ekblad’s 13th goal of the season, giving Jokinen seven straight games with at least a point. Jokinen’s 22 road points lead the team this season.
Doan scored on a power play early in the third period after the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr was whistled for interference. Vermette got the primary assist, and Vermette’s shot found Tanguay’s stick for a tip-in goal at 5:35 of the third to give the Coyotes an insurmountable three-goal lead.
“It’s 2-1 after the two periods, then we get to the third and we make a couple of bad plays,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.
The Coyotes added one more goal in the final minute on Vermette’s score on assists from Tanguay and Duclair.
“We had a good mix out there. We had a couple of good practices,” Vermette said. “You want to translate that into a game. (Tanguay’s) a smart guy. He’s been through a lot, a lot of experience. He won a Cup also. He’s a good passer, smart player.”
The Coyotes were strong on the penalty kill, thwarting the Panthers on five power plays. It marked the second straight game the Panthers failed to score with a man advantage after five straight games with a power-play goal.
“It’s a crucial part of the game and we are not doing it,” Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad said. “It’s not easy to score in this league and we’ve got to find ways to score, get in front of the net and jam away.”
Montoya finished with 21 saves for Florida, which has not won in regulation time in Arizona since Dec. 8, 1999.
The Panthers have lost four of their last five and dropped behind torrid Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning won their ninth straight game Saturday and have a two-point lead for first place in the Atlantic Division over Florida.
NOTES: Saturday’s game also marked the Coyotes debut of another forward, Sergei Plotnikov, who arrived in a trade with Pittsburgh earlier in the week. … Jagr played his 1,612th career game, tying the 44-year-old forward with Ray Bourque for ninth place in NHL history. … Montoya returned after missing the past two games with an upper-body injury. … Before the game, the Coyotes held a ceremony for Doan, who received a gold-plated game stick from Feb. 12, the night he became the franchise’s career points leader. … Arizona assigned F Craig Cunningham to Springfield of the AHL. Cunningham last played on Feb. 29, logging 11 minutes of ice time. … Arizona also called up G Marek Langhamer and sent G Niklas Treutle to Springfield. Treutle gave up five goals to Anaheim on March 3. Langhamer, 21, was up with the Coyotes for one game in November. … Coyotes C Max Domi was scratched due to a one-game suspension for starting a fight in the team’s previous game. C Boyd Gordon returned after missing the past 13 games due to injury.