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The Arizona Coyotes had lost the first two games of the 2022-23 NHL season as they kick things off with a six game road swing before they eventually return home to a 5,000 seat venue at Arizona State University, which understandably has made them the butt end of several jokes from fans and pundits alike.
However, that didn't stop them from taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs in the heart of the hockey universe on Monday night. Despite a controversial would-be tying goal by the Leafs near the end of regulation being washed out due to a hand pass, head coach Sheldon Keefe instead directed his post-game vitriol towards the high profile names on the Leafs roster.
"Our best people have not found a rhythm,” Keefe said in his postgame media remarks.
“The difference between us and Arizona is that we have elite players. And our elite players didn’t play like elite players.”
“This is a game we need to win,” Keefe added.
Arizona got goals from Christian Fischer, Nick Ritchie and Lawson Crouse, while also getting 26 saves from goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Meanwhile, William Nylander and Mitch Marner lit the lamp for the host leafs, who got 15 saves from Erik Kallgren while making his first start of the year.
The Leafs were booed by the fans in attendance, and don't think for a second that the players themselves didn't notice.
“You can tell your fans’ frustration through the game,” Marner said. “Just poor execution. Not good enough at all. Lots of lost battles. A lot of lost footraces to pucks.”
The Leafs are back in action on Thursday night at home when they bring in the Dallas Stars to Scotiabank Arena.