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Final Look: All Cylinders Arizona

Kessel deposits twice as the Coyotes' power play remains hot in a 5-2 win over Nashville

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Recap

> ALL CYLINDERS ARIZONA <

Any which way you examine it, the Coyotes put forth another complete performance in Thursday night's 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators at Gila River Arena. Twist it, turn it, take a good look at it.

The offense scored a season-high five goals.

The power play converted once, twice, three times.

The penalty kill? Perfect.

The defense, tenacious yet again, held a Nashville club that entered the night touting the NHL's best offense to just two goals, and did so with only five of its personnel.

The goaltending remained solid. Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves to earn his third win of the season while becoming the only goaltender in Coyotes/Jets franchise history to allow two or fewer goals in 12 consecutive starts.

Christian Dvorak opened the scoring just over six minutes into the contest to give the Coyotes a lead they would not relinquish.

High and tight. 

Phil Kessel followed suit four minutes later, scoring his first goal in a Coyotes uniform and the first of his two power play goals of the evening. Jakob Chychrun netted his first of the season late in the second period, while Carl Soderberg added an empty-netter in the final moments of the third.

Nick Schmaltz extended his point streak to four games and finished the night with two assists; he has a total of seven points (3G, 4A) over that span.

Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves to earn his third win of the season. His updated .955 SV% is tops in the league, while his 1.62 GAA ranks second.

To add to yet another sturdy performance from Kuemper was another strong showing from the team's blue-line. After all, the team's identity centers on its defense, and it shows. The Coyotes have allowed the fewest goals (11) in the league through six games.

"We defend the puck well," said head coach Rick Tocchet. "[Nashville] is a tough team. They had four shots after the first period, and I think 13 after the second. We hang our hat on that, guys take it personal, we like to defend the puck. If we continue on that mentality, defending the puck and then transitioning out, good things will happen. They stuck with the game plan."

Defenseman Jordan Oesterle suffered an upper-body injury during the first shift of the game and did not return. Oesterle was struck by a Ryan Ellis shot while defending the top of the crease, and was taken to the hospital for precautionary screening.

Arizona now has points in four consecutive games (3-0-1).

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> TRACKING IT <

GAME #6: ARIZONA (5) vs. NASHVILLE (2)

  • SOG: ARI - 32, NSH - 25
  • PP: ARI - 3/6, NSH - 0/3

ARIZONA SCORING:

NASHVILLE SCORING:

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> THEY SAID IT <

"We could've won 'em all. We've played well. If we keep building I think we're going to be a real tough team this year. Guys are confident, guys are working for each other and playing hard. We all want to win here and I think we're playing good hockey. If we can continue to grow and play well, we should be good."

Phil Kessel, on the team through its first six games of the season

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> DON'T OVERLOOK IT <

Hockey playin' plays.

Let's showcase the two-way games of forwards Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse , who with their aggressive defensive-minded efforts, produced two of the Coyotes' five goals with hard hockey IQ.

Schmaltz's refusal to back off of Nashville's regroup and ensuing breakout attempt early in the first period by cornering a Predators defenseman forced a turnover, which allowed a supporting Christian Dvorak to corral a loose puck to walk in unattended, scoring the game's opening goal with a well-placed shot.

You've got to give to get.

And Crouse gave his body, coming up with a big-time shot block as the Predators desperately scoured Arizona's zone down 4-2 with just under three minutes to play. Crouse's block freed up Carl Soderberg to bury an empty-net goal with 2:50 remaining, all but securing the win.

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> GOTTA SEE IT <

It takes two.

Flying through the neutral zone with purpose and connection, the duet of Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel charged into Nashville territory while trading passes, clearing themselves free of Predators defenders to produce Kessel's first goal in a Coyotes uniform.

Upon receiving Keller's return feed, Kessel transferred weight into a quick-release snapshot from the high slot, targeting low blocker-side and hitting his spot to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first period.

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> PHOTO FINISH <

Phil Kessel leans into a shot driven by his ever-dangerous low center of gravity and follows through to guide the puck toward the net to locate his first goal in a Coyotes uniform, beating Nashville's Juuse Saros to give Arizona a 2-0 first period lead in the team's 5-2 win over the Predators Thursday night at Gila River Arena. (Photo: Kevin Abele / Getty Images)

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