GLENDALE – Center Jeff Halpern made his debut with the Coyotes on Tuesday night and dominated opponents in the faceoff circles, winning all but one of his nine draws.
“I thought he did a good job for us tonight,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “He was real strong on the faceoffs. For a first game, that’s kind of what I expected from him.”
Halpern, who was playing in Finland before signing with the Coyotes last week, played 8:30 in Tuesday’s 4-3 OT loss to Ottawa. He delivered one hit and blocked a shot.
Before the game, Halpern, 37, said he was pleased to be reunited with Tippett, whom he played for in Dallas a few years back.
“I like the personality that he brought onto the team in Dallas, and you can see the same kind of personality and same attitude that’s instilled here,” Halpern said.
Defenseman Derek Morris missed Tuesday’s game because of a lower-body injury, but Tippett said he’s hoping to have Morris back in the lineup this weekend.
“He’s been really good for us,” Tippett said. “You can tell we miss him out there in some key situations. Hopefully he’ll be all right. We’ve got a couple days off now. He tried to skate (Tuesday) morning but just couldn’t make it work.”
The Coyotes are 0-1-1 in the two games Morris has missed this season because of injury. He played sparingly because of injury in another loss at San Jose.
Despite missing two-plus games, Morris ranks tied for third on the team in points with five (two goals, three assists).
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla absorbed a high check from Senators forward Bobby Ryan early in the third period and left the game for a few minutes. He returned later.
Replays showed Ryan’s check hit Klesla in the head but no penalty was called on Ryan.
Ironically, the Coyotes were called for too many men on the ice as Klesla staggered to the bench after the hit. Klesla, of course, recently returned to the lineup after suffering a concussion in the preseason.
“That was tough,” Tippett said. “The referee said he didn’t see (Ryan’s hit). You got Rusty staggering off, and you’re trying to get a defenseman on. That’s a tough call when an injured player is down. You hope there’s a whistle. If there’s not, you’re scrambling to get a guy on and didn’t work out very well for us.”
Center Mike Ribeiro scored his first goal with the Coyotes in the third period of Tuesday’s game to extend his point streak to four games.
The Coyotes wore their third (black) sweater for the first time this season on Tuesday. They will do so for each home game played on a Tuesday or a Sunday.
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