The Hurricanes arrived in Arizona licking their wounds and playing without goalie Frederik Andersen, captain Jordan Staal and center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The NHL’s worst team provided a perfect salve — especially for two former Coyotes.
Antti Raanta got a win in his return to Glendale, Max Domi slid into Staal’s spot and had his first goal since coming to Carolina, and the Hurricanes got a 5-3 win Monday night in Arizona.
Domi, playing his 14th game with the Hurricanes, had arguably his best game since being acquired from Columbus on trade deadline day.
“With Jordo out, that’s a big big hole there,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, “and I thought Max — we’re asking a lot of him to play in that spot — did a nice job.”
With Carolina up 2-0 early in the second period, defenseman Brett Pesce stole a clearing pass inside the Arizona blue line and passed to Nino Niederreiter for a quick shot from the left circle. Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made the save, but Domi punched in the rebound for his 10th goal of the season at 4:43 of the second period.
On top of it being Domi’s first goal with the Hurricanes, it was also the 100th of his NHL career.
“It’s special to play a game this league and to score one goal, so you get 100 it’s a special feeling for sure,” said Domi, who played his first three seasons with Arizona. “And to do it back here is great.”
The teams each scored three goals in a second period that included 38 shots on goal, but it was the first and third periods that proved to be the difference.
Carolina scored just 4:01 into the game when Vincent Trocheck got his 20th goal of the season — and just his second point in the last 11 games — by redirecting a shot past Vejmelka (47 saves).
After the wild middle frame, Sebastian Aho scored his 36th goal of the season off a rebound to give the Hurricanes an insurance goal they didn’t wind up needing. More importantly, Carolina limited the Coyotes to a combined 12 shots in the first and third periods, two fewer than they allowed in the second.
That period got off to a positive start for the Hurricanes.
Jesper Fast scored just 1:47 into the second when he carried the puck into the Coyotes’ end from the neutral zone and fired a shot off the far post and in for his 13th goal of the season.
Domi’s goal was answered by Nick Ritchie, whose one-timer beat Raanta (23 saves) at 6:32.
The Hurricanes’ third line struck again when Domi won a defensive zone draw and Carolina quickly transitioned up ice. Domi crossed the blue line and passed to Niederreiter, whose quick shot from the top of the right circle beat Vejmelka five-hole to give Carolina a 4-1 lead at 11:52.
“It was easy to play with him,” Niederreiter said of having Domi as his center. “We talked a lot with him on the ice and off the ice and tried to get him going that way a little.”
The Coyotes, however, didn’t go quietly. Loui Eriksson and Alex Galchenyuk each scored in the final four minutes of the period to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to one.
Aho’s goal and a stingy Carolina penalty kill — Arizona had just two shots in three third-period opportunities and was 0 for 4 on the night — ended any chance of a Coyotes comeback.
“We definitely created enough chances but gave up a few too many good looks and they capitalized,” Brind’Amour said. “But overall, take the two points for sure. We needed it.”
While the Hurricanes have rediscovered their scoring touch — they have averaged 3.62 goals per game in the last 13 games after managing just 2.23 in the previous 13 — they’ve allowed 13 goals in the last three.
With Andersen not set to be reevaluated for a week after being injured in Colorado on Saturday, Raanta began his stint as the clear-cut No. 1 by winning in his first game against his old team. It was a good return for both him and Domi.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that played here before,” Brind’Amour said. “So it’s always nice when those guys can contribute and get a win.”
Notes: Carolina’s 52 shots on goal were a season high. … Coyotes forward Andrew Ladd former Hurricanes draft pick, played his 999th career game. … Every Hurricanes skater recorded a shot on goal with only three being held to just one. … Domi, Niederreiter and Pesce all had two points. … Despite dominating most of the game, the Hurricanes had just one power play opportunity, and the call was made while Arizona was in the offensive zone.