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Final Look: Coyotes Claim First Place, Kuemper and Kessel Shine

Arizona climbs atop the Pacific Division for the first time this season as Kuemper and Kessel jolt Thursday's win

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Recap

COYOTES CLAIM FIRST PLACE, KUEMPER AND KESSEL SHINE

The Coyotes climbed to the top of the Pacific Division with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Updated to 38 standings points following the victory, the Coyotes surpassed the Edmonton Oilers to claim first place for the first time all season.

They made their move by ousting the hottest home team in the NHL. The Flyers had not suffered a regulation home loss since October 19, their only of such this season. Philadelphia entered the night with a 9-1-4 record on home ice.

The win improved the Coyotes to 10-3-3 on the road this season, the third-best road record in the league.

For the second straight game, Arizona converted on its first power play of the night, producing a 1-0 first period lead in the process when Phil Kessel finished a sharp give-and-go sequence with Clayton Keller less than three minutes into the game.

Kessel's goal fed two very, very good team trends. Arizona is now 12-0-1 when scoring a power play goal and 12-2-1 when scoring the first goal of a game.

The Coyotes, behind yet another spectacular Darcy Kuemper performance, weathered the Flyers' attack through the entirety of the second period and through the early portions of the third to maintain a 1-0 lead.

Conor Garland struck for his 11th goal of the season with 7:03 remaining in regulation when he pounced on a Jakob Chychrun rebound and deposited from low in the zone to the left of the Flyers' net, giving the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.

With his secondary assist on Garland's goal, Christian Dvorak extended his point streak to a career-high five games.

Philadelphia cut the Coyotes' lead in half, 2-1, with 4:43 left to play.

Kessel scored his second goal of the night into the Flyers' empty net with 1:02 left on the clock to secure the 3-1 victory.

Kuemper stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced to earn his 12th win of the season.

This marks the first time that the Coyotes have held first place after the first month of the season since the 2011-12 campaign, when they won the Pacific Division and advanced to the Western Conference Final.

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TRACKING IT

GAME #30: ARIZONA (3) at PHILADELPHIA (1)

  • SOG: ARI - 18, PHI - 29
  • PP: ARI - 2/4, PHI - 0/3

ARIZONA SCORING:

PHILADELPHIA SCORING:

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THEY SAID IT

"A win's a win, we're in first place, we're happy. I'm not sure we can play that way to be a first place team, or to hang around. We hung in there, a couple of guys made some good plays when we had to, but the bottom line is that Kuemps was outstanding tonight."

Rick Tocchet, on Thursday's 3-1 win

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DON'T OVERLOOK IT

THE SITUATION: Coyotes leading, 2-1, with 1:19 remaining in the third period.

The Coyotes blocked 22 shots on Thursday night, their second-highest total of the season, and none was bigger than that of Jakob Chychrun as the Flyers flooded on the attack with Brian Elliott pulled for an extra attacker.

With Travis Sanheim set up in the slot for a wondrous opportunity to tie the game, Chychrun challenged the shot, deflecting the puck with his right shin pad to keep it from getting to Darcy Kuemper.

The Coyotes would go on to transition out of their own zone, leading to Phil Kessel 's empty net goal 17 seconds thereafter.

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GOTTA SEE IT

THE SITUATION: Tie game, 0-0, with 17:35 remaining in the first period.

Give-and-go for the goal.

A clean, sharp sequence composed with speed, communication, and finish saw the Coyotes convert on a first period power play for the second straight game.

Skating with momentum through the neutral zone, Phil Kessel chipped left to Clayton Keller , who sauced a return feed to a net-driving Kessel, tapping home the game's opening tally to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.

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PHOTO FINISH

The finishing touch. Clayton Keller and Carl Soderberg join to celebrate Phil Kessel's empty net goal with 1:02 to play in regulation on Thursday night, a goal to counter Philadelphia's desperate comeback attempt to secure the Coyotes' 3-1 win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (Photo Credit: Len Redkoles - Getty Images)

Lead Photo Credit: Len Redkoles - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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