The Arizona Coyotes are a very streaky team this season. When they are bad, they are terrible, and things look bleak and pointless. But when they are on, when things are just clicking, they are a joy to watch.
Arizona has played better than they did today. But it was a solid effort, one which saw the team generate offense, get solid defense, and some stellar goaltending from Adin Hill.
The Desert Dogs did not have the best start, coming out a bit flat-footed. The San Jose Sharks applied some early pressure, especially in the latter half of the period.
The Sharks had an early power play when Jakob Chychrun was called for interference. The Coyotes kept the Scottsdale Sharks from converting on the power play, but it gave them enough momentum to control most of the first period.
But Hill was putting on a goaltending clinic, and thankfully, the Coyotes started to show some life in the final minute of the period.
Arizona looked much better to start the second, and before long, they were rewarded. Clayton Keller brought the puck into the Sharks’ zone with Phil Kessel on a two-on-one. Keller seemed to be looking for the pass, but he elected to shoot it instead, and it went five-hole on Devan Dubnyk.
Not long after Keller’s goal, things started to get physical. Kurtis Gabriel delivered a big hit on Drake Caggiula, only for John Hayden to drop the gloves and come in. They didn’t throw any punches, but it ended with Gabriel getting charging and roughing penalties while Hayden was assessed a double roughing call.
That would be the last penalty that the Coyotes took of the game, but not the last one that the Sharks took.
And the next time San Jose took a penalty, the Coyotes made them pay. The Coyotes were set up in the San Jose zone, with Phil Kessel and Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the point. Ekman-Larsson passed the puck to Kessel, who walked in above the faceoff circle and fired it past Dubnyk, giving Arizona the 2-0 lead.
Adin Hill made some big saves to maintain the lead, and the Coyotes would get another power play as the second period expired. They had a lead, were playing well and were going to start the third period on the power play.
Arizona failed to score on the power play that started the third period. Nor did they in the next one, when Rudolfs Balcer was called for tripping at 3:48 into the period. The Sharks didn’t exactly have a great penalty kill, but the Coyotes were having trouble converting.
And after a game where they have struggled, things got physical again. At 7:02, Kurtis Gabriel delivered a late hit on Johan Larsson, knocking him down on the ice where he was slow to get up.
Kurtis Gabriel puts an illegal hit on Johan Larsson that results in a 5 minute major. pic.twitter.com/18fLQYwiaH— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 28, 2021
Gabriel a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit. Arizona had a whole five minutes to extend their lead for the major, and another close to two minutes when Radim Simek fired the puck over the glass as the penalty expired.
But the Coyotes were doing good work, and it wasn’t a terrible-looking power play. And as the delay of game penalty was expired, Kessel kept hacking and whacking away at the puck after it rebounded off Dubnyk, and he put it home to give the Coyotes that much-needed third goal.
San Jose challenged on goaltender experience, probably figuring it was better than going down 3-0. And while the call on the ice stood, the Coyotes were again unable to convert with the man advantage after San Jose was assessed the delay of game call.
But even though they couldn’t get another one on the power play, San Jose had spent over twelve minutes short-handed in the third period. The Coyotes were clearly doing something right.
The Sharks pulled Dubnyk with three minutes left. But any hopes of a comeback were cut short when Kessel finished his hat-trick by scoring into the empty net.
WHAT'S BETTER THAN TWO GOALS? A HAT TRICK.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 28, 2021
WHAT'S BETTER THAN A HAT TRICK? A NATURAL HAT TRICK. pic.twitter.com/xSpNUKoGp8
Lines stay the same as yesterday. pic.twitter.com/uuVeyaXMKW— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 28, 2021
- Hill looked great in back-to-back starts. In net for San Jose was Devan Dubnyk, who played 19 games for the Coyotes during the 2014-15 season.
- This was Phil Kessel's first hat-trick as a Coyote. He now leads the team with 14 goals.
- The Coyotes have power play goals in back-to-back games. And while their power play looked better, they still have some work to do.
- Arizona is now tied with the St. Louis Blues for the last spot in the division. The Blues do have a game in hand.
- Clayton Keller has five points in his past three games.
- Phil Kessel - 3 goals
- Adin Hill - 34 saves on 34 shots
- Clayton Keller - 1 goal and 2 assists
The Coyotes are heading to Colorado on Wednesday in what will be the first game of a nine-game road trip.