The Arizona Coyotes made a huge splash on Monday by acquiring star forward Taylor Hall. He made an immediate impact on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, by staying with a play and keeping possession he was able to get the puck to Oliver Ekman-Larsson who scored the game-winning goal with less than three minutes left in the game.
It wasn’t just Hall who had a good game. Carl Soderberg, centering a line with Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz, scored his tenth goal of the season at 4:57. Derek Stepan got his sixth of the season at 9:11 in the second, with Lawson Crouse and Vinnie Hinostroza getting assists.
While the Coyotes got the win, it wasn’t an easy one. With less than a minute left in the game, Ilya Lyubushkin was called for the new helmet violation, and fifteen seconds later Brad Richardson was called for cross-checking. The Coyotes’ penalty kill has struggled this season compare to last, but killing off a six-on-three power play was impressive.
With a win over the Sharks, the Coyotes have maintained their lead of the Pacific Division. With 44 points they are one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights who have been climbing up the standings the past few weeks. The Golden Knights have played one more game than the Coyotes, but have won seven of their past ten games.
The Minnesota Wild are not a good team this season. They are currently second to last in the Central Division and are 16-14-5. They have also beaten the Coyotes in their last two meetings.
Minnesota has had a fairly decent December. They are 5-3-1 on the month and have wins against the Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Philadelphia Flyers. They are currently at the end of a three-game road trip, having dropped the first two games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Taylor Hall - Hall made his presence known against the Sharks setting up the game-winning goal. Tonight will be his first home game as a Coyote and he will hopefully impress.
Minnesota: Zach Parise - After missing 40 games of the 2017-18 season, Parise has been great. He has a team-leading 14 goals and has a goal and two assists in the Coyotes’ previous two matches.
Arizona: Antti Raanta (questionable, illness), Jason Demers (knee), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Minnesota: Jason Zucker (questionable, lower body), Joel Eriksson Ek (upper body), Jared Spurgeon (hand), Mikko Koivu (lower body), Greg Pateryn (hernia)
Tonight’s game at Gila River Arena starts at 7:30 pm Arizona Time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona, SN360, SNE, SNO, and Fox Sports 910 AM.