Arizona Coyotes: Hinostroza’s big night tightens team’s grip on playoff spot

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 14: Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes holds game pucks from his three goals scored during a 6-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. It was Hinostroza's first career NHL hat trick. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 14: Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes holds game pucks from his three goals scored during a 6-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. It was Hinostroza's first career NHL hat trick. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Arizona Coyotes picked up an emphatic 6-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks last night thanks to Vinnie Hinostroza’s career night.

Vinnie Hinostroza helped lead the Arizona Coyotes to victory over their divisional rivals, earning the first hat-trick of his NHL career.

Hinostroza’s hat-trick came during a game where the former Chicago Blackhawk had a whopping eight shots, helping to extend the Coyotes’ hold on their wildcard playoff spot.

Entering the game, the Coyotes held a one-point lead over the Minnesota Wild, who they had leapfrogged to replace in the final wildcard place.

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After the Coyotes’ huge win and the Wild’s loss to the Dallas Stars, who are the team directly ahead of the Coyotes in the Western Conference, Rick Tocchet‘s team now have a three-point buffer.

The Coyotes now sport a 36-30-5 record, good for 77 points – seven points more than their total from the disappointing 2017/18 season.

Hinostroza, who was acquired by the Coyotes in the trade that also saw the team take on Jordan Oesterle and Marian Hossa‘s contract in exchange for a number of minor assets, has had a career year since arriving in the desert.

Last night’s hat-trick took the Chicago native up to 15 goals on the season – eight more goals than last season and two more than his career total prior to this season.

The sixth round (169th overall) selection by the Blackhawks in the 2012 draft, Hinostroza has 34 total points in 61 regular season games, averaging 14:53 on the ice – all of which are career-highs.

Tocchet’s ability to turn players such as Hinostroza and Oesterle into key pieces to the team’s success this season is something that deserves more attention.

Some teams in the NHL rely heavily on one or two superstars to carry the weight of expectations, but for the Arizona Coyotes, their strength in depth has become their best asset.

The team has 11 players that have scored over 10 goals this season, with none of them reaching the 20-goal mark (Brad Richardson is closest with 16).

Having so many players contributing has helped the team greatly in their hunt for the post-season – with the whole team taking responsibility for the results on the ice.

Hinostroza’s own contributions, which have seen him perform as a strong possession player with 51.3% Corsi rating despite starting in the offensive zone just 40.5% of the time, have been noticed.

Tonight will be one that Hinostroza may never forget and it could have a significant impact on the team’s final standings, with just 11 games left to play in the regular season.

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What do you think Coyotes fans? How pleased are you with Hinostroza’s performances this season? How pleased are you with the trade that saw the team acquire him? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!