TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Nick Ritchie scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Tuesday night for their first victory in three games at their new Mullett Arena home.
“It was pretty cool,” Ritchie said. “The crowd was standing for us the last minute of the game. It was loud in here for a small barn. It feels good. We want to do more of that at home.”
Ritchie’s power-play goal with 11:05 remaining came on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Spencer Knight to the glove side for a 2-1 lead. Ritchie has four goals this season, all on the power play.
Florida pulled Knight with two minutes remaining and Clayton Keller scored into an empty net with 1:07 left.
Lawson Crouse also scored on a power play for Arizona, which had lost four of five. The Coyotes have converted 11 of 34 power-play opportunities, which ranks among the NHL leaders, after going 2 for 4 in this one.
“When we play with urgency defensively, we are a tough team to beat,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “We’re honest. Goalie stopped 41 pucks, our (penalty kill) shut down a team like Florida and your power play scored two goals. That’s a good recipe. I hope we can copy and paste a few times.”
Karel Vejmelka made 41 saves for Arizona.
“It was a good win against one of the best teams in the league,” said Vejmelka, who was under constant pressure in the final minutes.
The Coyotes did not convert on their two first-period power-play chances but made good on their final two.
“We didn’t make any adjustment,” Tourigny said. “Power play is a matter of execution. The pass has to be on the tape. The pass has to be quick. We need to be crisp. We went into the third and we zipped the puck and scored a big goal.”
Colin White scored to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the second period in the opener of their four-game, five-day trip out West. The Panthers had won three in a row and were 7-1-1 in their last nine games against Arizona.
Knight made 18 saves while losing for the first time in four starts this season.
“The third period is where we lost the game,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We had done what we needed to do and didn’t accept through 40 minutes that it was still a tight game, and the first 10 minutes (of the third period) we did a lot of things we hadn’t done this year, uncharacteristic play.”
Florida hit two posts and Vejmelka stopped Patric Hornqvist on a breakaway in the first three minutes of the second before White broke through, tipping in a high shot from right in front over Vejmelka’s left shoulder at 8:24.
White has a point in all six road games for Florida, tying a franchise record to open the season.
Crouse tied it five minutes later on a power play with a wrist shot from the slot.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Coyotes will spend this season and the next two on the Arizona State University campus at Mullett Arena, capacity 5,000, after the city of Glendale refused to renew their lease at Gila River Arena.
THIS AND THAT
Florida G Sergei Bobrovsky is two games short of 600. … The Panthers mustered seven shots in the first period but finished with 42. They had 51 shots and a franchise-record 58 in their previous two games, respectively.
Coyotes F Nick Schmaltz (upper body) missed his eighth straight game and Conor Timmins (upper body) missed his seventh. Arizona D Jakob Chychrun (wrist) has not played this season while recovering from offseason surgery. F Zack Kassian (lower body) is day-to-day. … Panthers C Anton Lundell did not skate in practice Monday because of an undisclosed injury but logged 17 minutes. … C Nick Cousins and D Matt Kiersted were scratched.
Panthers: Play at San Jose on Thursday.
Coyotes: Host the Dallas Stars to finish a four-game homestand Thursday.
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