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New Brunswick

Arizona Coyotes scored four unanswered goals in win over Toronto Maple Leafs

When the Toronto Maple Leafs and Scottsdale native Auston Matthews make their annual visit to Arizona, the building always buzzes with activity, and Thursday night was no different.

Coyotes staff decked out the Mullett Arena in reverse retro replicas with “Desert Sienna” colored jerseys placed on every seat in the building. But the blue-and-white-clad fans of Canada’s hockey favorites, the Leafs, and the noise these people made for their team couldn’t be endured.

So the Coyotes did to the Maple Leafs what they have done so many times for almost 17 years. They defeated Toronto, this time 6-3, with Toronto native Jack McBain breaking a 6-17 tie to play, helping the Coyotes to a fourth straight win over the Leafs. Arizona has improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games and is 18-4-2 against the Leafs in 24 games between the teams since January 4, 2006.

The third half saw a comeback with a JJ Moser equalizer before McBain tapped into a Lawson Crouse pass following a Maple Leafs turnover. Then McBain and Barrett Hayton finished Toronto with empty net goals.

Hayton had one goal and two assists.

The Coyotes were down 1-2 after the first half (13-2 committee) and 3-2 after the second. They had just one win as they headed into the third third of this season through Thursday.

Nick Bjugstad scored after 46 seconds and Jakob Chychrun also scored for the Coyotes, who were 6-1-1 in their last eight home games. After beating the second-best winning team in the Eastern Conference, the Coyotes (13-16-5, 31 points) are closer to a wildcard spot in the Western Conference than they have to the worst record in the West.

Five Takeaways from the Coyotes’ Victory:

McBain’s big night

McBain scored his first game-winning goal of his career and his first multi-goal game of his career. The 22-year-old center was among those who received a slap or a slap on the shoulder from Coyotes majority owner Alex Meruelo, who congratulated the players in the locker room after the game.

“Great match!” Meruelo told McBain. “Very proud of you.”

“I think Toronto has a pretty big following everywhere,” McBain said. “But I mean, you’re bringing Matthews here to his hometown, so it was a great fight the whole game. … It was great. It feels good to get those points, yes.”

“He played with a lot of passion. He was physical. He was very fast. He won a lot of fights, he was one of our best players,” said Coyotes head coach André Tourigny about McBain.

Chychrun still hot

Chychrun’s second-half goal leveled the game by 2 points, giving the veteran defender 17 points in his 18 games played. He has 10 points in eight Coyotes home games he has played in and scored his first goal at Mullett Arena on Thursday.

Bjugstad’s consistency

Bjugstad has three points plus a game-winning shootout goal in his last three games after scoring and assisting on Thursday.

Tourigny said he has a lot of good things to say about Bjugstad, who has been doing more than just picking up points lately. Tourigny described Bjugstad as a “difference maker” with his size and speed.

“I think everyone believes in the systems that are being preached and everyone is doing a good job. So I think … we’re a tough side to play against,” said Bjugstad. “And most teams don’t like going to the mullet. It’s a different rink. (So we) try to use it to our advantage. So we’re going to have some fun with it.”

Timmins in Tempe

Coyotes fans may remember former defenseman Conor Timmins, a former top prospect with the Colorado Avalanche who came in trade for Darcy Kuemper and a first-round pick ahead of the 2021-2022 season.

In Timmins, the Coyotes thought they had an NHL-ready player who could develop into a top player with experience. It didn’t work out that well, and now it looks like Timmins may be able to fulfill his potential in Toronto. He has eight assists in 12 games with the Leafs, including two on power-play goals on Thursday.

Timmins missed most of his freshman season with the Coyotes due to a knee injury that required surgery, and then played two games for the Coyotes and six with AHL Tucson before being traded to the Maple Leafs.

Setting up the DVR

Tourigny said he doesn’t have time to watch the IIHF World Junior Championships in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where five potential Coyotes are playing for four different countries. Two of them are the top draft picks of the past two years, Canadian Dylan Guenther (2021) and American Logan Cooley (2022).

Tourigny will do it if he can. He is a big fan of the tournament and said the experience of playing at World Juniors is invaluable.

“It’s huge because there’s a lot of no-names out there playing at the moment. In 10 years these guys will be at the (NHL) All-Star Game. These are the best players in the world.” Tourigny said. “So you play against the best players of your age, for example you have the chance to play Günther an important role in his team. Ditto for Cooley to be on the biggest stage you can find at that age.”

Games will be played in front of NHL hiring directors and media from around the world. The tournament has high television viewership in hockey countries outside of the United States, Tourigny said.

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