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Pucks In Deep: First Line Connection

Stepan, Kessel, and Keller turn on the highlight reel in the second period

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Game #1: Arizona (1) at Anaheim (2)

SOG: ARI - 33, ANA - 29

PP: ARI - 0/1, ANA - 0/1

ARI SCORING: Stepan (1) (Kessel, Keller) - 9:03/2nd

ANA SCORING: Grant (1) (Shore, Lindholm) - 14:32/1st, Fowler (1) (Rowney, Jones) 19:28/2nd

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> FIRST LINE CONNECTS IN FIRST GAME <

An auspicious start for the Coyotes saw the team control the majority of first period play, outshooting the Ducks by a 14-6 margin in the opening 20 minutes while spending much of its time in Anaheim territory.

The Ducks capitalized first, though, executing in transition after a sequence of pressure put on by the Coyotes. Darcy Kuemper nixed Devin Shore's initial attempt on the rush, but Derek Grant caught Kuemper out of position to slide home a loose rebound to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead with 5:28 remaining in the first.

Derek Stepan just missed tying the game in the final moments of the first, hitting the cross-bar on a shot from the high slot.

He and the Coyotes' first until would connect soon thereafter.

Stepan found the back of the net just prior to the midway mark of the second, finishing off a pretty passing sequence to beat John Gibson with a shot upstairs from the left face-off circle. Phil Kessel registered his first point in a Coyotes uniform with the primary assist; Clayton Keller credited with the secondary.

Anaheim's Cam Fowler cashed in with a slick solo effort in the final moments of the second period to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead.

The Coyotes outshot the Ducks 11-9 in the third and were granted their first power play of the evening with 7:46 remaining, but were unable to even the score prior to the end of regulation.

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> THEY SAID IT <

"I thought we played pretty well tonight, this game was just one of those nights where we couldn't get more than one. We need to get a little crisper and a little better, and if we can do that we'll be just fine."

- Phil Kessel, on chemistry with line mates, team performance

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> DON'T OVERLOOK IT <

With the Coyotes trailing 1-0 early in the second and the Ducks applying consistent pressure for the first time all night long, Darcy Kuemper, who was square to pucks throughout the night, was collected as he read an Anaheim rush to calmly turn away a redirection from in close with relative ease. Kuemper's save kept the Coyotes to within a goal.

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> GOTTA SEE IT <

No questions asked, the play of the night goes to the smooth touch-pass connection between the first-line trio of Keller, Kessel, and Stepan, as they worked brilliantly together to produce the game-tying goal.

Keller, driving wide right, found Kessel trailing high in the slot, who then delivered in motion to Stepan, who opened up to drive into a one-timer.

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> PHOTO FINISH <

An elated Derek Stepan circles behind the net moments after connecting to score the first Coyotes goal of the season before joining arms with Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller to celebrate midway through the second period Thursday night at Honda Center. (Photo: Debora Robinson / Getty Images)

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