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Final Look: Coyotes' Resolve Compels Come-From-Behind Win

Arizona erases early deficit, Tocchet earns 100th win as Coyotes head coach, Keller notches three-point night

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Recap


It's not how you start, but how you finish.

That certainly was the case for the Coyotes on Saturday night, who after finding themselves in a 2-0 hole in the game's opening minutes, roared back to secure a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Gila River Arena.

Two points. Two huge points.

The win served as Rick Tocchet's 100th as Coyotes head coach, and it was earned in front of a sellout crowd of 17,125 -- the club's ninth sellout of the season.

"We just didn't panic," said Jason Demers , who returned to lineup after missing the team's last 12 games. "We knew they were on three games in four nights, so we stayed with our game, stayed with the course, played together and I think it showed. Guys got to the net, guys got gritty, and that's the kind of win you love to see."

The Sabres scored two goals less than a minute apart to take a 2-0 lead with 11:17 remaining in the first period, a lead they would carry into the second.

The Coyotes responded in mighty fashion in the middle frame, scoring twice in :53 seconds to tie the game, 2-2, and adding a third minutes later to take a 3-2 lead.

Jordan Oesterle sparked the scoring spree with a one-timer from slot, pinching in to bury a Clayton Keller feed from the slot, cutting the Coyotes' deficit in half, 2-1.

Seconds later, Phil Kessel set up shop in Buffalo's crease, jamming away to stuff a loose puck rebound past a sprawled-out Jonas Johansson to tie the game, 2-2.

Clayton Keller finished the Coyotes' run of three goals in 5:10, punching home his own rebound to give the team its first lead of the night, 3-2, with 12:30 remaining in the second period.

In the third, Keller provided crucial insurance, netting his second goal of the night as he looked off a passing option on a two-on-one to connect with a shot low to the five-hole, giving the Coyotes a 4-2 advantage with 6:01 to play.

Keller registered his fifth multi-goal performance of the season and his second three-point effort (2G, 1A) in his last three games, and now leads all skaters in points scored in a Coyotes uniform this season with 43 (17G, 26A).

"Even though we were down 2-0, I still felt good about our game, just some unlucky bounces," Keller said. "We stuck with it and good things happen."

Oliver Ekman-Larsson tacked on an empty-net tally with 20 seconds left on the clock, securing the team's 5-2 win.

Antti Raanta made 25 saves on 27 shots faced, earning his 15th win of the season.

"He stood on his head when we needed him, it could've been worse than 2-0 at the start," Oesterle said of Raanta. "He's been good all year, that's what we expect from those goaltenders, we hope we don't have to rely on them too much like that, but we know they're back there to make those saves, and they can do it."

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GAME #67: ARIZONA (5) vs. BUFFALO (2)

  • SOG: ARI - 31, BUF - 27
  • PP: ARI - 0/2, BUF - 0/2



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"It just shows that we're mentally strong, we don't give up. Every point is crucial right now so we really needed these two points, we can't take too many bad losses anymore, we just need to find ways to win. It doesn't matter if it's a bad game, good game, or whatever happens in the game, you just have to find a way to win."

Antti Raanta, on Saturday's 5-2 comeback win over Buffalo

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THE SITUATION: Coyotes' crash-the-net mentality

Establishing net-front presence was the main focus following Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Florida, an aspect of the game that the Coyotes hit heavily during the team's practices on Wednesday and Friday.

Though the team's first three goals of the night exemplified that assertive approach, none was a more perfect example than Phil Kessel's tally to tie the game, 2-2, early in the second period.

Posted in the crease, Kessel fended off a defender with a physical tone before jamming home a caromed puck from an Alex Goligoski shot that rung off the cross-bar.

"Phil's goal, he crashes the net, cross-checks a guy and gets a goal, that's where you've got to go," Rick Tocchet said. "We worked on it for the past two days."

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THE SITUATION: Clayton Keller's fifth multi-goal game of the season

Clayton Keller gave the Coyotes their first lead of the night in the second and followed to provide insurance for that lead in the third, scoring two goals for the fifth time this season to help drive the team to Saturday's win.

After ringing a shot off the post in the early half of the second period, Keller followed the ensuing rebound to jam the loose puck into the net.

While flying in on a two-on-one with just over six minutes left to play in regulation, Keller looked off his passing option with a shoulder fake before burying a shot low through the five-hole.

"I'm not thinking, I'm just having fun, that's when I'm playing my best, so it's good to feel that right now," he said after the game. "I've been practicing great and really shooting the puck, it's good to get some results there in a huge win tonight."

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Phil's thrilled. Goal scorer, meet goalie. Phil Kessel wraps his arms around Antti Raanta as he goes in for a big hug following Saturday night's 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Gila River Arena. (Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images)

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

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