GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jordan Martinook was trying not to fret over a 15-game scoring drought, but when he missed a golden opportunity against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the frustration finally boiled over.
“I try not to get too hard on myself but the last couple games here, I got pretty down,” the Coyotes forward said. “It’s something that you try to work really hard on and hope it goes in here and there.”
It finally did for Martinook in the Coyotes’ 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at Gila River Arena. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Coyotes’ sagging fortunes.
Captain Shane Doan lofted what he called a deep ball to Martinook and the rookie left wing hauled it in as he streaked through the neutral zone. Martinook batted the puck onto his stick, muscled his way past L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty and lifted a backhander over goalie Jonathan Quick for the game-winner and his fifth goal of the season just 22 seconds into the final period.
Martinook goal pic.twitter.com/nYO6VoslcI
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“He lifts the top off the defense,” Doan said, smiling. “As long as he doesn’t have to slow down and I don’t underthrow him, he’s going to have a chance.”
Martinook said he and Doan have worked on the play many times in practice and have even tried it in a few games.
“He always says ‘you go and skate into it’ and that’s exactly what I tried to do,” Martinook said.
The goal helped the Coyotes finish their seven-game homestand 3-3-1 while improving to 11-2-2 against the Pacific Division and 3-0-1 against the Kings this season.
While Martinook has been frustrated by his recent lack of production, head coach Dave Tippett hasn’t shared his rookie’s displeasure. Tippett credits the line of Doan, Martinook and Brad Richardson with providing much of the team’s energy recently, and he likes all of the details that he is seeing in Martinook’s game, including his role as a penalty killer
“He’s a pretty valuable player for us,” said Tippett, who wasn’t surprised by Saturday’s goal. “In juniors he was a 50-goal scorer. I really give him credit because he’s really turned into a real refined player. There are players that do that that are scorers in juniors but they’re smart enough to find their niche in the game and get to the NHL.
“He’s a guy where he has to put the work in first but he has decent skill. You don’t score 50 goals in juniors without decent skill.”
Martinook showed a precocious understanding of the requirements of his job in training camp when he shocked most outsiders by making the roster and earning Tippett’s highest praise.
“Obviously, you want to score goals and put up some points but I’ve kind of developed into a guy throughout my pro career that if I’m not scoring I need to emphasize the other parts of the game even more,” he said. “When I am clicking in the points department it still needs to be there.”
Simply put, Martinook understands there are more ways than goals to impact a game.
“You look at lots of guys’ games on this team like Gordo (Boyd Gordon). When he blocks a shot, it just kind of energizes the whole group,” Martinook said. “I understand what role I have to have to help us win.”
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