The 2020-21 season is over for the Arizona Coyotes. It didn’t end the way anyone wanted, and the Desert Dogs won’t be advancing to the playoffs, but it ended with a bit of hope.
Tonight wasn’t the Coyotes’ best game of the season. Arizona was far from perfect, and if it were any other night, there would be plenty of issues we could examine.
But since the season is ending with back-to-back wins against the San Jose Sharks, why not focus on the good. It was a fun game, and the Coyotes’ weak spots just made it more fun.
And besides, there will be plenty of time to focus on the areas the Coyotes need to improve.
The scoring started early, with Christian Dvorak getting his 16th of the season just over three and a half minutes into the game. Both teams were down a man, with Jakob Chychrun and Jeffrey Viel both in the box for roughing.
Dvorak used the extra space to his advantage, finding some open ice between the circles. He fired a shot top-shelf, and it was a 1-0 game.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, San Jose responded well to giving up an early goal. They took control of the game, and a little over three minutes after Dvorak opened the scoring, Rudolfs Balcers got his 8th of the season to tie it up.
San Jose continued to build, but an ill-timed penalty halted their momentum. Jeffrey Viel was called for unsportsmanlike conduct midway through the first, and the Coyotes got the first power play of the game.
Dvorak won the power play, and the Coyotes spent a few seconds working the puck along the perimeter. Dvorak stayed in the faceoff circle, leaving him free to take a pass from Christian Fischer and give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
But San Jose continued to apply pressure, and at 15:28, Kevin Labanc walked in and scored unassisted. The first period ended with the score tied 2-2.
San Jose struck first in the second. Timo Meier took the puck from above the blue line to the front of the net, pulled Adin Hill out, and put it home to give the Sharks their first lead of the game.
But what made this game so much fun to watch was the quick responses. And not a minute later, the Coyotes would tie it up when Jan Jeník took the puck down low and put it top-shelf with this insane shot.
Jan Jenik finds the net to tie the game! pic.twitter.com/x70v2AFCJB— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) May 9, 2021
The second period ended with the score tied 3-3. And it would stay that way for most of the third period.
But the scoring wasn’t finished yet. And late in the third, it was Conor Garland lighting the lamp.
Garland’s goal was a thing of beauty. He takes the puck to the net, backhands it up into the air, and that hits it midair over Alexei Melnichuk’s pads into the back of the net.
Just an absolutely filthy goal for the pending restricted free agent.
But that wasn’t the end of things. If this were any other game, the Coyotes’ inability to finish by allowing Alexander Barabanov to tie the game with 49 seconds left would be a problem. But tonight, it just added to the tension and gave us some extra hockey.
The third period was the only period that the Coyotes would outshoot the Scottsdale Sharks. And the third shot would be the most important.
Phil Kessel stole the puck at center ice and took it down to the circle, where he fired a shot. The puck went under Melnichuk’s pad into the net, and that was it. The Coyotes had the 5-4 win in overtime.
Tonight’s lines in San Jose: pic.twitter.com/fsRVbdPNO7— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) May 9, 2021
- This was the first game for Aaron Ness, who spent the entire season on the taxi squad. He was given an A for the game.
- Dvorak finishes the season with 17 goals in 56 games. Last season he had 18 goals in 70 games. If the pandemic hadn't happened he would be looking at back-to-back 20+ goal seasons.
- Victor Söderström had an assist on Jan Jeník's goal, giving them both two points. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of them next season.
- Speaking of Jeník:
Per @JeSanders11, Jan Jeník is the second player in Coyotes/Jets franchise history to score a goal in each of his first two career NHL games.— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) May 9, 2021
Christian Fischer was the first:https://t.co/lrqFxS7LDw https://t.co/AVloaxQq8E
- This is Phil Kessel's 12th 20+ goal season. It was also his 900th consecutive game.
1. Phil Kessel - 20th goal of the season
2. Patrick Marleau - 1,778th regular-season game
3. Christian Dvorak - 2 goals
Who knows? We'll let you know when we find out.