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Coyotes Weekly: Midwest Mettle, Carl in the Clutch, Thursday's Telethon

Arizona wins three of four games and returns home with a share of first place in the Pacific Division

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Coyotes Weekly

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Three wins, six points, and a share of first place in the Pacific.

At the outset of a four-game-in-six-night road trip through the Midwest, most are content with the idea of a .500 finish. Get in, get out, break even, no damage done.

Expectations, though, have been heightened. And instead of an 'okay trip', as head coach Rick Tocchet told the team during the second intermission Sunday night in Chicago as the final game of the excursion still hung in the balance, it finished as 'a hell of a trip.'

Spanning across Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Coyotes posted a 3-1-0 record while netting a combined five power play goals.

With an overall record that reads 18-10-4, Arizona has reached the 40-point mark in 32 games to shatter last season's pace; the 2018-19 club didn't acquire its 40th standings point until January 10 - a span of 43 games.

Some perspective:

A special night it was for Phil Kessel on Friday as he returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since being acquired by the Coyotes in an offseason trade on June 29. Kessel received a video tribute during the first TV timeout, followed by a standing ovation and round of applause that carried over into the ensuing faceoff.

Video: ARI@PIT: Kessel honored in return to Pittsburgh

Heads up! The Arizona Coyotes Foundation, in conjunction with Fox Sports Arizona, will be holding a charity broadcast during Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, raising funds to donate to the Phoenix Children's Hospital and its Hope Fund. Click here for full details. Fans can also donated by visiting arizonacoyotes.com/telethon.

Players will wear specialty Phoenix Children's Hospital jerseys during warm-ups, which will be up for auction with all proceeds going toward the same cause.

FAST FACTS: Conor Garland scored the 25th goal of his NHL career on Sunday night, doing so in his 79th game, it took him 131 games to score 25 goals at the AHL level … the Coyotes' 11-4-3 road record is the second-best in the league … Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland lead the NHL in shootout goals with four … The Coyotes' five shootout wins are the most in the NHL … Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg each registered points in three of the Coyotes' four games played during the week and are now tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 18 points.

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PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

  • Tuesday, December 3 at Columbus Blue Jackets: W (4-2) - RECAP
  • Thursday, December 5 at Philadelphia Flyers: W (3-1) - RECAP
  • Friday, December 6 at Pittsburgh Penguins: L (2-0) - RECAP
  • Sunday, December 8 at Chicago Blackhawks: W (4-3) F/SO - RECAP

CURRENT RECORD

  • 18-10-4 (40 Points; T-1st-Place, Pacific Division)

THE WEEK AHEAD

  • Tuesday, December 10 vs. Calgary Flames: 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, December 12 vs. Chicago Blackhawks: 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, December 14 vs. New Jersey Devils: 6:00 PM

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PLAY OF THE WEEK

PHIL KESSEL: First period power play goal Thursday in Philadelphia

Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller teamed up to set the tone of Thursday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers, connecting for a power play tally just over two minutes into the game.

With speed, timing, and touch, the two generated an early lead with a give-and-go entry that was finished courtesy's Keller's return saucer pass and Kessel's back-door jam.

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK

CARL SODERBERG: Six points (2G, 4A) in four games played

The big-bodied offseason acquisition got the Coyotes' road trip off to a roaring start as he registered a season-high three points, fueling Arizona's 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

He followed that performance with a keen eye Thursday in Philadelphia, finding Phil Kessel with just over a minute to play to set up the empty net goal that secured the Coyotes' 3-1 victory against the Flyers.

Sunday in Chicago, the power forward had a direct hand in both of the Coyotes' back-to-back power play goals to help the team overcome a two-goal deficit, registering the primary assist on Conor Garland's goal with his pass across the slot and scoring just 2:21 thereafter which his deflected shot from the right circle.

The Coyotes are now 12-1-1 this season in games when Soderberg registers a point.

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IN THE SYSTEM

The Tucson Roadrunners won three games to improve to 18-5-0-0 on the year, continuing to sit atop the AHL's Pacific Division with 36 points. Tucson's .783 points percentage is the second best in the entire 31-team league.

In total, six Coyotes prospects have been added to their respective country's Selection Camp rosters for the upcoming 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament. Kevin Bahl (Canada), Matias Maccelli and Aku Raty (Finland), Jan Jenik (Czech Republic), Valentin Nussbaumer (Switzerland), and Ty Emberson (USA).

Speaking of Jan Jenik, the 2018 third-round selection's 26-game point streak came to an end on Saturday in the Hamilton Bulldogs' 3-0 shutout loss to the Mississauga Steelheads. Jenik, who had a goal waived off in the final moments of the loss, was just one game shy of matching John Tavares, Connor McDavid, and Alex DeBrincat for the third-longest OHL point streak (27 games) of this century.

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PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Toe-to-toe. Antti Raanta shuts down a Bryan Rust scoring chance on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena, making one of his 24 saves in a game that featured as a goaltenders' duel between he and Pittsburgh's Tristan Jarry. Neither team scored through the first 47:13 of play in the Coyotes' 2-0 loss to the Penguins. (Photo Credit: Joe Sargent / Getty Images)

Lead Photo Credit: Nicole Fridling - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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