Arizona Coyotes Aggressive, Smothering Play Shuts Out Sharks 4 to 0

Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

Arizona Coyotes ride hot hands of Adin Hill and Phil Kessel to second straight win against the San Jose Sharks.

Okay, admit it. There were a handful of times during the Arizona Coyotes game on Saturday night that you thought for sure that the San Jose Sharks were going to put the puck past Adin Hill, especially in the first period. It’s okay to say so, because you were by no means alone.

The Sharks peppered the poor guy from all angles, yet the scoreboard stubbornly remained at zero on the Sharks’ side of the ledger despite a few power play chances generously provided to the Sharks by the boys in purple.

At nearly ten minutes in, Hill denied Rudolfs Balcers from right in front of the net, and did the same thing just a bit later in the first on a point blank shot by Timo Meier. And so it went the entire night.

Until recently, even Coyotes fans didn’t know a whole lot about Adin Hill, the 6′ 6″ wall of stone that wears number 31 on his sweater. When you have Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta on your roster, who gives much thought to who the #3 goalkeeper is? Well, we do now!

The Arizona Coyotes were able to replicate their hustle and physicality from Friday night’s contest and use it again to beat the San Jose Sharks in an exciting game at Gila River Arena. Although it appeared that the Sharks were initially more aggressive and had the run of the play early on, the Coyotes awoke quick enough from their familiar early-game slumber to keep the game scoreless through the first period.

The main reason for the Sharks’ “goose egg” was none other than third-string Hill, the Desert Dogs’ goalkeeper with the cat-like reflexes, a netminder that had already won a few of his previous games. Amazingly enough, there are Coyotes fans that are adamant that Adin Hill is not an NHL-caliber goalkeeper, to which fellow Yotes fans quizzically wondered one of two things: 1) what games were THOSE fans watching?, or 2) what planet are they from?

The Yotes sustained their pressure in the second period and didn’t allow much room for the Sharks attackers to maneuver. They were equally adept at forechecking the Sharks’ defenders. Clayton Keller’s (11G 17A 28 pts) unassisted goal broke the ice scoring wise, and San Jose tried stepping up their pace to gain the equalizer. At 14:16, Phil Kessel (14G 12A 26 pts) scored his first goal of the evening’s hat trick, a power play goal, and the Yotes were up 2 to 0.

The most upset and frustrated of the Sharks, at least outwardly, had to be forward Kurtis Gabriel, who has already been assessed 55 minutes in penalties in only 11 games with San Jose. He received a 5-minute major misconduct penalty at 7:02 of the third, but the Coyotes failed to score any goals on that opportunity.

At 14:03 of the third period, Mr. Kessel scored his second of the game shortly after a Sharks’ power play had expired. Finally, at 17:28 into the third period, Kessel scored his third, an empty-net goal. The hat trick was Kessel’s seventh of his career.

It was encouraging to see Adin Hill play so well in the absence of Kuemper and Raanta. The Coyotes will need his imposing presence to steady the Yotes defense against some pretty potent teams beginning on Wednesday in Colorado. Following that one-game visit, it’s on to Anaheim and then LA.

It won’t be long before we see the debut of backup goalkeeper Ivan Prosvetov, as he will eventually need to play while Adin Hill gets some needed rest and recovery time. Let’s go Coyotes!