The Arizona Coyotes are one of the surprise stories of the young NHL season. Powered by a hat-trick from youngster Anthony Duclair, the Coyotes defeated the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night to improve to 3-0 on the season. Duclair had only one career goal in twenty career NHL games heading into Wednesday’s action.
Linemate and fellow rookie Max Domi added a goal and an assist, while centre Martin Hanzal had three assists to help power the Coyotes offence. It was all the support that goaltender Mike Smith would need, as he made 37 saves for the 28th shutout of his career.
“He had a solid training camp, but the great thing about him is that he’s gotten better and better,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “For young guys, there’s lots to learn in camp and lots to take in, and I give really give him credit. His biggest strengths are speed and skill. And on all of his goals tonight, he shot the puck quick.”
The 20-year-old Duclair was acquired by the Coyotes at last year’s trade deadline when the team sent defenceman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers. The 2013 third round pick of the Rangers, who teamed with Domi in helping Team Canada win the World Juniors in January, is quickly becoming part of the team’s future.
“Getting traded was a bit of a shock,” Duclair said. “When you’re a young guy and sort of a prospect, you don’t expect to get traded. I guess that comes with the business of hockey, but after that I was excited. I talked to (general manager) Don Maloney, and came to the rookie camp and just felt a great vibe here.
“Obviously, getting traded for a guy like Keith obviously comes with some pressure,” Duclair added. “But by no means am I trying to replace him. I just come to the rink and work as hard as I can every day. We have a special group in this locker room, and that it that much more fun.”
“We want to play fast and physical, especially in a road game. That was the key early on tonight,” Duclair said. “I give credit to my linemates and the rest of my teammates for doing a good job of making some space for me and making it much easier.”