The Coyotes played an impressive, solid game in beating the Sharks 6 to 3 at GRA on Tuesday night.
The beginning of the Pacific Division tilt between the Coyotes and Sharks was wide open, with the home team creating a couple of great scoring chances in the first 5 minutes. The Sharks were also playing a quick north and south game, and it was evident early on that the men in teal and white intended to play a “heavy” game against the ‘Yotes. No surprise there!
A couple of ill-advised passes by the Coyotes’ blueliners, fortunately, resulted in no harm being done, and both teams had a bit of difficulty getting the puck out of their own “D” zones. The Sharks were the first to pay the price for sloppy passing, as the Coyotes’ Phil Kessel got a quick pinpoint pass along the right-wing from Derek Stepan and rifled a shot from the center of the circle to goalkeeper Aaron Dell’s left and scored “bar down.”
The Coyotes had a few problems clearing the puck from directly in front of their crease once or twice, and I expected someone from the Coyotes to assist a Shark’s player to sit on his derriere after having a few clean whacks at the puck that was just beyond Adin Hill‘s reach.
On a night where the Las Vegas Golden Knights lost in Buffalo to the Sabres 4 to 2 and the Vancouver Canucks were beaten 4 to 0 by the Winnipeg Jets, the Coyotes had an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and their Pacific Division foes. Phil Kessel obliged by scoring his second goal on a power play fairly early in the second period. Less than two minutes later, however, the Sharks cut the lead in half.
At the midway point of the second frame, the Sharks scored again on a nifty counterattack with Timo Meier lighting the lamp. The Coyotes were most effective in the first two periods when they were skating up and down the ice as a unit.
Once the Sharks tied the game, the ‘Yotes seemed to be on their heels and were playing tentative, reactive hockey. The Sharks took advantage of the Coyotes’ demeanor and swarmed the ‘Yotes’ “O” zone. Hockey is a funny game, however, and with a little less than 3 minutes remaining in period two, Jordan Oesterle sent a shot toward the net that Taylor Hall was able to get a stick on, and the Coyotes went up 3 to 2.
It is safe to assume that the Coyotes got their collective butts chewed between the second and third periods, and they started the final stanza as if their attitudes had indeed been adjusted. About nine minutes into the period, the Coyotes’ Lawson Crouse scored on a feed from behind the Sharks’ net by Derek Stepan, and the score increased to 4 to 2.
With just under 3 minutes left on the clock, Adin Hill was called for tripping, and Evander Kane scored to make it 4 to 3 after Aaron Dell was pulled for a sixth attacker.
With 1:40 remaining, Conor Garland scored an empty netter, and with only 12 seconds left, Taylor Hall scored yet another goal sans goalkeeper.
The Coyotes played an impressive game against a veteran team, and it appears as if they are trending upward. Now they need to keep it rolling. Let’s go Coyotes!