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The Wrap: Coyotes Finish Season with Overtime Win

Offense on display in regular-season finale

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes
Final Score: Coyotes 5, Sharks 4 F/OT
Record: 24-26-6
Standings: 5th-place, West Division

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The Coyotes capped the 2020-21 season on a winning note Saturday night at SAP Center, defeating the San Jose Sharks in dramatic fashion, 5-4, in overtime. 

Phil Kessel scored the overtime, game-winning goal. 

The teams traded tallies throughout regulation in a wide-open, offensively-driven contest. Christian Dvorak scored twice in the first period to match the Sharks' output. The teams were locked in a 2-2 tie after the first. 

San Jose reclaimed a lead, 3-2, early in the second period, but Jan Jeník answered the bell moments later, scoring his second goal in as many games to draw the Coyotes even, 3-3. 

Jeník is only the second player in franchise history to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games. Christian Fischer accomplished that feat in 2017. 

"(The goal) was definitely a great reward from my line mates' (play) there. I just saw an empty spot, I tried to put it there, and it worked out." 

Conor Garland scored a highlight-reel goal to give the Coyotes a 4-3 lead late in the third period. Garland drove wide left, cut inside and chipped the puck to himself to create space in front of the Sharks' goaltender before swatting it into the net out of mid-air. 

The Sharks tied the game, 4-4, with 48 seconds remaining with an extra attacker on the ice. 

Kessel struck for the game winner midway through overtime, beating Alexei Melnichuk to the short side and recording his team-leading 20th goal of the season. It is the 12th time Kessel has reached the 20-goal mark in his career. 

Adin Hill made a career-high 44 saves.

Head coach Rick Tocchet praised Hill's ability to play through some tough situations this season.

"He's just a battler, a big battler," Tocchet said. "Ask players, ask trainers, and the one attribute you love about him is that he's a battler. Whether he lets a goal in or he doesn't, he's just a battler. That's just something you admire about him. We put him in some tough spots and he battled his butt off, and you've really got to give him a lot of credit for that."

Aaron Ness made his season debut and wore the second "A" for the Coyotes, a gesture from Rick Tocchet for the positive attitude Ness displayed throughout the season.

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The Game: 

First Period: Christian Dvorak opened the scoring at 3:32 to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. San Jose's Rudolfs Balcers tied the game, 1-1, at 6:44. Christian Dvorak scored his second goal, 2-1, at 11:36. Kevin Labanc evened the score for the Sharks, 2-2, at 15:28.

Second Period: Timo Meier scored at 5:26 to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead. Jan Jeník tied the game, 3-3, at 6:20.

Third Period: Conor Garland scored at 16:07 to give the Coyotes a 4-3 lead. Alexander Barabanov tied the game, 4-4, at 19:11

Overtime: Phil Kessel scored the game-deciding goal at 2:30. 

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Statistics: 

SOG: ARI - 34, SJS - 28

PP: ARI - 1/2, SJS - 0/3

Hits: ARI - 11, SJS - 11

Blocks: ARI - 11, SJS - 8

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Tocchet's Take: "You love to win, but I don't know if that was great hockey. It was kind of like river hockey, or summer hockey out there. It was probably good for the fans, but not good for the coaches. It's good to win, but it wasn't the greatest defensive effort from both teams. But it's an overtime win for us." 

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Conor Garland said: "These games are definitely tough to play in when there's nothing really to look forward to after. You play hockey to win, you play hockey to get into the playoffs and for the chance to play for a Stanley Cup. We didn't do that this year. (Winning tonight) is definitely better than losing, but it is what it is."

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Notable: 

  • Christian Dvorak scored his team-leading eighth power-play goal in the first period.
  • Jan Jeník scored in the second period, becoming the second player in franchise history (Christian Fischer) to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games.
  • Victor Söderström registered his first NHL assist on Jan Jeník's goal.
  • Adin Hill made a career-high 44 saves.
  • Phil Kessel scored his 20th goal of the season and finished the year with a team-high 43 points.
  • Phil Kessel played in his 900th consecutive game.
  • Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Alex Goligoski, Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel played in all 56 games.

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A Closer Look: Phil Kessel finished the season with the team lead in goals (20) and points (43); Conor Garland in assists (27); Lawson Crouse in hits (155); Alex Goligoski in blocked shots (108); Jakob Chychrun in minutes played (1,309:44); Jakob Chychrun in shots (176); Christian Dvorak in power-play goals (8); Christian Dvorak in game-winning goals (4).

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Coyotes Lineup:

Forwards

Keller - Dvorak - Kessel

Bunting - Pederson - Garland

Hunt - Jeník - Fischer

Oesterle - Brassard - Fasching

Defensemen

Ekman-Larsson - Söderström

Chychrun - Goligoski

Ness - Lyubushkin

Scratches

Hjalmarsson

Schmaltz

Hayden

Pitlick

Larsson

Demers

Crouse

Raanta

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Roster Notes: The Coyotes dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Aaron Ness made his season debut. Antti Raanta is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and did not dress. Nick Schmaltz (day-to-day, upper-body), Johan Larsson (day-to-day, upper-body), Tyler Pitlick (day-to-day, lower-body) and Jordan Gross (IR, lower-body) remain out of the lineup.

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What's Next: The Coyotes return home and will hold exit interviews Monday.

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Photo of the Game: A-Okay. Aaron Ness, playing his first game at any level this season, dons the "A" on the upper-right chest of his jersey. Ness, designated to the Taxi Squad throughout the season, was awarded the second alternate captain role by head coach Rick Tocchet.

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Highlights:

Video: Kessel buries overtime winner in 5-4 win over Sharks

Lead Photo Credit: Brandon Magnus - NHLI via Getty Images // Photo of the Game: Brandon Magnus - NHLI via Getty Images

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