The Arizona Coyotes are on the verge of a franchise record they want no part of.
The Coyotes tied the longest winless streak to start a season in their history at 11 games Friday night with a 3-1 road defeat against the Anaheim Ducks.
They will return home to face the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz.
The Coyotes are the league’s last winless team at 0-10-1, the same record they had beginning the 2017-18 season. It’s tied for the second-longest, season-opening winless streak in NHL history. The New York Rangers went 15 games without a victory (0-14-1) in 1943-44.
Saturday’s game against the expansion Kraken and next Friday’s contest at one-win Chicago might be the Coyotes’ best chances to avoid reaching the Rangers’ record skid.
“Mentally, we had a lack of urgency,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “I understand we’re in a tough situation, but nobody will feel sorry for (us), so we need to show more character in our situation.”
Rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka stopped 28 shots for the Coyotes. Their lone goal came from defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere with eight seconds left in the third period.
Tourigny said he liked the Coyotes’ play in the opening period, even though they took a 2-0 deficit into the intermission.
“I think we did good things in the first period, and then after that it’s a huge setback,” Tourigny said. “Not happy about the way we responded. Not happy about the way we behaved. Not happy about the way we worked.”
The Kraken snapped a two-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory Thursday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres as Jordan Eberle notched the first hat trick in franchise history. It was a natural hat trick, with Eberle scoring the tying goal late in the second period and the go-ahead goal and an insurance goal in the third.
“Those are big momentum shifts in a game we desperately needed to win,” Eberle said. “You look at the standings, I know it’s early, but you don’t want to fall too far behind.”
Eberle was scoreless in the first six games of the season, but he has five goals in five games since.
Even when he wasn’t scoring, Eberle kept repeating that as long as he and the Kraken were getting chances, goals would come.
As the game’s first star, Eberle got a chance to toss a plush salmon into the stands to celebrate, one of the Kraken’s new traditions for home games at Climate Pledge Arena.
“I live downtown, so I go to (Pike Place Market) with my little girl quite a bit to get groceries,” Eberle said. “I see (the fishmongers) throw the fish, so I wanted to make them proud.”
Goaltender Chris Driedger might make his first start for the Kraken. Driedger has appeared in only one game this season, in relief of Philipp Grubauer on Oct. 18 at Philadelphia. Driedger got hurt during his 32-minute outing, but he allowed only one goal in a 6-1 defeat.
“I tweaked the knee a little bit. I didn’t really think it was going to be a huge deal,” Driedger said. “I kind of felt it during the game. Woke the next day and it was ‘no bueno.’ So I pretty much realized I’m hurt, and we started rehab.”
Driedger was asked after practice this week about whether the coaching staff had talked with him about making his first start of the season. The goalie said he wasn’t involved in those conversations.
“I stop the puck when they tell me to,” he said, drawing laughs from reporters.
–Field Level Media