Arizona started the game taking an early penalty. But while the Coyotes’ penalty on Thursday was plain to see, Conor Garland’s hooking call was less so.
Either way, San Jose scored on that first power play, again giving them an early one-goal lead.
But things diverged radically from there.
Like Thursday, the Coyotes’ first power-play started off pretty bad. They were unable to get set up in the offensive zone, and it looked like this afternoon was going to be a replay of Thursday.
But sometimes a little luck can radically change things. Towards the end of the power play, Kessel crossed the Scottsdale blue line without much space. He shot the puck into a Sharks player, recovered it, and scored.
And the Coyotes weren’t done from there. Less than two minutes later Barrett Hayton was alone at the top of the faceoff circles. Niklas Hjalmarsson sent the puck to Nick Schmaltz in the corner. Schmaltz sent it behind the net to a waiting Conor Garland who found the open Hayton. Hayton got his first of the season and second NHL goal.
San Jose would tie the game before the end of the period, but it was off of a lucky bounce. Timo Meier’s shot appeared to bounce off Jakob Chychrun’s skating and over Antti Raanta’s shoulder, tying the game.
From then on the Coyotes took over. Five minutes into the second Oliver Ekman-Larsson fired the puck from the blue line and Phil Kessel redirected it past Jones. Kessel didn’t score in consecutive games at any point last season, and he has three goals in his first two games to start the season.
And the Coyotes would keep up the pressure. A Derick Brassard faceoff win midway through the second would get the puck back to Jakob Chychrun who would fire it past Jones.
The final period began with the Coyotes up 4-2. In the past this would be where the Coyotes retreated into a defensive shell, letting San Jose Control the pace. But not this year.
Just over two and a half minutes into the third Derick Brassard won the faceoff and got the puck back to Oliver Ekman-Larsson. OEL lobbed the puck forward and Clayton Keller either hit in midair or shot it as soon as it hit the ice. We have seen the Coyotes fall back with a lead, but they just kept the pressure up.
And from there it was pretty much over. San Jose would score their own goal in the final minute of the third when Tomas Hertl got his third in two games but by then it was already over.
The Coyotes won their second game 5-3 and start the season with three out of a possible four points.
- The Coyotes kept the same lineup except swapping in goaltender Antti Raanta. It will be interesting to see how the Coyotes split the games between Raanta, Darcy Kuemper, and Adin Hill for the rest of the season.
- Speaking of Raanta he looked great. He made some great saves, had good puck awareness, and kept the team in the game when he needed to.
- Phil Kessel had only three two-goal games last season. One of those games was on January 14th against the San Jose Sharks at home.
- Last December Craig Morgan wrote about Conor Garland's desire to up his assists while continuing to score. Garland had an assist on Hayton's goal giving him second of the season. Last season he didn't get his first assist until his seventh game when he had already scored three goals, and he didn't record his second until his eleventh game.
- Officiating was not great this game. Often you will see referees calling games closer during pre-season or during the first few games to make sure everyone is on the same page, which explains the weak Keller call. But look at Christian Dvorak taking a stick in the face and getting all bloody:
- I am really surprised by how much I'm enjoying Keller and Tyler Pitlick. Keller is having a great season, and Pitlick is happy to skate around and make his presence known. Derick Brassard hasn't been as noticeable, but he also hasn't been negatively standing out. The line is fun and worth keeping an eye on.
- Phil Kessel rushed to get back to recover the puck when the team was up 5-2. That shouldn't be notable, but Kessel is looking like a different player to start the season and I'm loving it.
- After the fifth goa,l the Sharks pulled Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk was in net for the final 13 minutes. Just in case you forgot that Devan Dubnyk was playing for the Sharks
- Ekman-Larsson took a bad hit with just over ten minutes left. While he was awkwardly going into the glass Evander Kane's stick rode up and hit the back of his helmet and pushed his head into the glass.
- Derick Brassard had two assists today. He is the first new Coyotes player to record a point.
- Phil Kessel - 2 goals
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson - 3 assists
- Antti Raanta - 31 saves on 34 shots
The Coyotes next play the Vegas Golden Knights at 8:00 pm Arizona time on Monday, January 18th.