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Final Look: Coyotes Claw For A Point Against Pittsburgh

Niklas Hjalmarsson returns and assists on third period goal, Adin Hill stands tall with 31 saves

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Recap

COYOTES CLAW FOR A POINT AGAINST PITTSBURGH

Upon a quick turnaround from their three-game road trip, the Coyotes battles for a point on Sunday as they played their fourth game in six nights, coming up short in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Gila River Arena.

The Coyotes overcame two deficits to take a third period lead, but ultimately extended to overtime and an eight-round shootout, where they were unable to strike for the second point.

"We hung in there," head coach Rick Tocchet said. "We knew the legs weren't going to be there early on, it was a tough trip we just came back from. I liked our response in the third and I thought Hall and Garland helped supply that, they had a lot of energy out there for us tonight."

Pittsburgh tallied an early power play goal, but Taylor Hall and Conor Garland connected to tie the game, 1-1, with 5:37 remaining in the first period. Garland's goal extended his team lead to 15 on the season.

Hall factored into the Coyotes' next response when he deposited a sharp-angle shot to tie the game, 2-2, with 10:11 remaining in the second period.

With 8:32 left to play in regulation, the Coyotes took their first lead of the game, 3-2. Niklas Hjalmarsson , playing in his first game since October 12 after missing 43 games due to injury, pinched to intercept a Pittsburgh clear and fed Derek Stepan in the slot with a backhand pass.

"I told [Hjalmarsson] before the game that 'you're going to find me with a backhand pass'; however, I meant it on the PK, in the middle of the d-zone, not on the offensive side of things," Stepan said with a chuckle.

The Penguins tied the game, 3-3, with 3:02 left on the clock, sending the game to overtime and a shootout.

Hall was the Coyotes' lone scorer in the eight-round shootout. Pittsburgh's Teddy Blueger netted the game-deciding tally.

Hjalmarsson logged 16:41 TOI, blocked two shots, and registered an assist in his return to the lineup.

"I was a little nervous before the game," Hjalmarsson said. "It's tough to jump in in the middle of the season when everybody's been playing a lot of games, but I felt all right."

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TRACKING IT

GAME #48: ARIZONA (3) vs. PITTSBURGH (4) F/SO

  • SOG: ARI - 32, PIT - 29
  • PP: ARI - 0/3, PIT - 0/3

ARIZONA SCORING:

PITTSBURGH SCORING:

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THEY SAID IT

"I really liked the way we responded, we were really able to grab a hold of things a little bit and make a real strong push. There were two points there and we come out with one."

Derek Stepan, on Sunday's 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh

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DON'T OVERLOOK IT

THE SITUATION: Conor Garland's team-leading 15th goal of the season

When the team needed it badly, Conor Garland injected some life, as he's done numerous times this season.

Finding space as he hovered in open ice to the far-side of Pittsburgh's slot, Garland opened up for Taylor Hall, who fed a pass from behind the Penguins' net, burying a one-time shot to tie the game, 1-1, with 5:37 remaining in the first period.

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GOTTA SEE IT

THE SITUATION: Adin Hill's second period save on Patric Hornqvist

Handed the responsibility of manning the Coyotes' crease once again, Adin Hill put forth a very respectable effort, finishing the night with 31 saves in regulation and overtime, and stopping six of the Penguins' eight shootout attempts.

Hill's biggest save, despite it taking place in the early stages of the second period, came when he sprawled out to deny Patric Hornqvist's sure-fire scoring chance to keep the game tied, 1-1.

"He stood tall for us when we needed it, it's great, it showed a lot of character about the kid," Derek Stepan said. "He's been battling since he's been here. The kid just wants to continue to grow as a goaltender, and he's been doing that."

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PHOTO FINISH

Hammer time. Niklas Hjalmarsson scans the setting and fans hold a sign welcoming the defenseman back as warm-ups wind down on Sunday evening at Gila River Arena. The veteran blue-liner played for the first time since October 12 after missing 43 games due to injury. (Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images)

Lead Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - NHLI via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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