Ingram’s Shutout Carries Coyotes to Win Over Red Wings

The Hockey Writers

As of late, the Arizona Coyotes haven’t been known for hot starts. The first period hasn’t been kind for the team, with many of their issues coming at the beginning of the game. However, it was exactly the opposite in Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The Coyotes’ offense took off to help them secure a 4-0 win. With the win, the team ends a seven-game losing streak at Mullett Arena. Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Nick Bjugstad’s Triumphant Return

Arguably, one of the best players in the game was Nick Bjugstad. The Minnesota native wasn’t in the lineup against the Minnesota Wild due to a family event, which ended up being the birth of his kid. After Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba were traded during the trade deadline, the Coyotes looked to Bjugstad to return to the lineup, and he did so in a big way.

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Bjugstad’s night started early. He assisted on Alex Kerfoot’s goal to make it 2-0 Coyotes early on in the first. Then, although not getting an assist, the forward was crucial in setting up Logan Cooley’s goal to make it 3-0. Finally, Bjugstad finished off his night by sniping home a goal for himself, which also ended up being his 300th NHL point. It was an impressive game for the center.

“How big is a six foot five center who’s gonna win face-offs, play on the power play and PK, and score goals,” head coach Andre Tourigny said. “That’s pretty big. He’s such a great guy in the room, and he’s such a good player. He’s such an underrated player in the league in my opinion.”

Bjugstad’s name was involved in trade rumors during this season. However, he was most likely not traded due to the birth of his child and due to the fact he has term on his contract. Maybe it’s for the best the team didn’t deal him. Bjugstad is one of the early examples of players who have publicly made an example of players wanting to sign and stay with the Coyotes in Arizona. After being dealt from the team to the Edmonton Oilers last trade deadline, the forward returned to Tempe and signed a two-year extension with the team, stating he loved what was being built in the desert.

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Bjugstad has become an important figure on and off the ice for the Coyotes. He’s been an important center on the ice, becoming a fixture on the second line. He’s also produced his best season since the 2017-18 season with the Florida Panthers, recording 34 points so far. Off the ice, he’s been a leader in the locker room, helping the young team navigate through its up-and-down season.

Since his time with the Panthers, Bjugstad hasn’t stayed on the same team for more than two seasons. If he returns next season for the Coyotes, it’ll be his third straight season with the team, excluding a small stint with the Oilers. He’s an important figure for this team, and with his performance this season, he might’ve just bought himself a ticket to stay long-term with this team.

Connor Ingram’s Spectacular Night

The other impressive player today was Connor Ingram, who went back to his winning ways against the Red Wings. After a highly offensive first period from the team in front of him, the Red Wings battled back, but Ingram was there to stop every shot they laid on him.

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Connor Ingram, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“He was huge,” Tourigny said. “I think your goalie when you win makes the difference. That changes your team. I think you play with an edge and confidence. Iggy was big. I think we were really good in the first period for him. I think he was really good the rest of the game for us.”

Ingram has had an up-and-down season. Initially, he stole the starting job from Karel Vejmelka and helped the Coyotes take down the five most recent Stanley Cup champions. He then went on a cold streak, and the team wasn’t playing well. Recently, he’s played some good hockey and recorded another shutout. He’s now tied with Tristan Jarry for leading the league in that category.

Ingram has shown he can be a fantastic goaltender in this league, even with a mediocre team in front of him. Without the young goaltender tonight, the Coyotes barely win the game. He’s become a core part of the young team, and it’ll be exciting to see what he can do with a better team in front of him next season.

Mullett Magic is Back

There’s no better feeling than winning at home in front of your fans. With Friday’s win, the Coyotes snapped a seven-game losing streak at home that dated back to January. Even more impressive was that it was against the Red Wings, which are currently in the playoff hunt out east. 

“It’s huge,” said Logan Cooley. “Anytime you can get a win in this league, it’s big. It’s something to build off of. We haven’t had a win on home ice here for a while, so it’s nice that we performed like that, and from the goaltender to the forwards, it was a heck of a game by all of us.”

In addition to everything else, this was the Coyotes’ first game after the Trade Deadline. Despite being without Zucker, Dumba, and Troy Stecher, the team also made it work convincingly. 

Related: Wild Hand Coyotes Seventh Straight Loss at Mullett

Now, without the pressure of the trade deadline or any losing streak, the Coyotes head on the road, where they’ll face some of the teams they’ve seen in the past week. In the next few days, they’ll play the Chicago Blackhawks, Wild, and Red Wings. 

With recent meetings against all three of those teams in the past four games, Tourigny’s team has been tired but determined to prove they’re a strong team. Winning against the Red Wings, despite all the talk of distractions in the past couple of games, is a step in that direction.

“If you look in our last seven games, six of them we had the upper hand in scoring chance so that is a really good stretch for us,” Tourigny said. “We were doing good stuff even if we had a distraction, and even if it was not easy, even if we didn’t win regularly, we were doing good stuff. I think tonight’s distraction went away a little bit, and we played a really solid game, so now I want to build on that.”

The Coyotes will travel to Chicago to play the Blackhawks on Sunday, March 10. The Blackhawks are currently last in the Central Division with a record of 16-42-5.

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