TEMPE, Ariz. -- — A quirk in the schedule forced Arizona to play six straight games against the last five Stanley Cup champions.
The Coyotes stumbled in the first one. They made history in the next five.
Nick Schmaltz scored two goals, Connor Ingram stopped 26 shots and the Coyotes became the first team in NHL history to beat the previous five franchises to win the Stanley Cup in consecutive games with a 6-0 rout of the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
“There’s stretches where you’re going to win a lot of games,” Schmaltz said. “There’s stretches where you’re going to lose and you got to stay with it either way. So we’re doing a good job of managing the puck playing the right way.”
Since an ugly loss to St. Louis on Nov. 22, Arizona reeled off wins over reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas, Tampa Bay, Colorado and a rematch with the Blues.
The Coyotes finished off their run with a dominating performance against the 2018 champions, kicked off by the third 5-0 first period in franchise history — first since 1986.
No team had ever won consecutive games against the last five teams to win the Stanley Cup — with repeat winners not counted twice — according to Sportradar.
Ingram was the catalyst, hours after becoming the first Coyotes goalie to be named the NHL’s first star of the week since Mike Smith in 2012. He had some big saves on an early penalty kill, finishing with his second shutout in five games and third career.
“They made some big saves early and from there the game kind of got away from us,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said.
Did it ever.
Logan Cooley, Michael Carcone and Schmaltz scored in the first period to chase former Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper. Schmaltz then scored against Charlie Lindgren and Jason Zucker capped Arizona's first-period flurry with a little over a minute left.
Carcone scored for the fourth straight game, Nick Bjugstad had a shorthanded goal in the second period and Clayton Keller had three assists to cap Arizona's first five-game winning streak since 2018-19.
“The whole building has a different feel right now when you get on a streak at home like this,” Ingram said. “This is what people want to see around here.”
The Capitals made center Evgeny Kuznetsov a healthy scratch for what would have been his 700th career game following a lackluster performance Saturday night at Vegas. Coach Spencer Carbery called it a “mental reset” for Kuznetsov, Washington’s leading scorer on its 2018 Stanley Cup run and $7.8 million a year player who’s off to another disappointing start following trade rumors this past offseason.
The rest of Washington's roster might need a mental break after a second straight dismal game.
Kuemper allowed three goals on five shots before being pulled. The Caps gave up a shorthanded goal, went 0 for 4 on the power play and allowed two power-play goals.
Washington has allowed 10 combined goals the past two games and lost four of six.
“It was pretty ugly game, I think for everyone tonight,” said Lindgren, who had 19 saves. “It was our fifth game on the road trip. Still, no excuses. We've got to show up and play better than that.”
Capitals: Host Dallas on Thursday.
Coyotes: Host Philadelphia on Thursday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl
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