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The Wrap: Coyotes Make Late Case in Vegas

Arizona maintains fourth place in West Division, one point up on St. Louis

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes
Final Score: Golden Knights 7, Coyotes 4
Record: 19-17-5
Standings: 4th-place, West Division

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The Coyotes staged a late-game comeback Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, but the deficit proved too steep in a 7-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Arizona rallied for four goals in the final 21 minutes to chip away after falling behind 5-0.

"Anytime you're chasing (the game), it's tough to get back," said Michael Bunting. "And especially in a building like this. It's unfortunate how it started, but I thought we ended pretty strong. (We) can build off that going into Sunday." 

Nick Schmaltz cut into the Golden Knights' 5-0 lead with a power play goal in the final minute of the second period.

Dryden Hunt and Clayton Keller scored :58 apart early in the third period to get the Coyotes within two, 5-3.

Shortly after the Golden Knights responded, Bunting cut the Coyotes' deficit back to two, 6-4, with 10 minutes remaining, beating Vegas defender Shea Theodore one-on-one and finishing with a forehand move.

Bunting has five goals in six games.

"I feel pretty good," Bunting said, assessing his play. "But I can't get too high on the highs and get too low on the lows. I keep taking it day by day. I want to help this team win and I want to help this team make the playoffs."

The Golden Knights added an empty-net goal in the final minute, 7-4. 

Adin Hill was pulled after two periods of play. He made 27 saves. Ivan Prosvetov stopped three of the four shots he faced in the third.

Though the Coyotes aren't content with the result, Keller believes the team can build off its late-game resurgence.

"I think it's good to score a couple on them there and take that into the next game," Keller said. "We just have to flush this one down. We've got to be better, myself included, I was terrible tonight. We'll flush this one down and look forward to the next one." 

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The Game: 

First Period: The Golden Knights scored four goals to take a 4-0 lead: Jonathan Marchessault (3:03), William Carrier (4:41), Keegan Kolesar (6:59) and Reilly Smith (8:44).

Second Period: Chandler Stephenson increased the Golden Knights' lead to 5-0 at 4:10. Nick Schmaltz scored at 19:07 to cut the Coyotes' deficit to 5-1.

Third Period: Dryden Hunt cut the deficit to three, 5-2, at 2:42. Clayton Keller got the Coyotes within two, 5-3, at 3:40. Really Smith re-claimed a three-goal lead for Vegas, 6-3, at 9:44. Michael Bunting cut the Arizona deficit back to two, 6-4, at 9:59. Max Pacioretty scored the game's final goal, 7-4, into an empty net at 19:05. 

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Statistics:

SOG: ARI - 26, VGK - 37

PP: ARI - 1/2, VGK - 1/2

Hits: ARI - 43, VGK - 25

Blocks: ARI - 12, VGK - 19 

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Tocchet's Take: "As an individual, you go to (back) the hotel tonight and you look what you can bring for your team. It's the old 'look in the mirror' adage. You have to ask yourself what you can do better to help the team. That's really what it comes down to. If each guy looks at themselves and says, 'Hey, the next game I'm going to change better, I'm going to be a good forechecker, I'm going to make sure I reload, I know exactly what the system is,' that's leadership to me. If you're unfocused, then you're in trouble. Hopefully, guys go back to the hotel, get some rest and understand the stakes are high." 

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Clayton Keller said: "We weren't ready to play. They're a great team, and if (you're not ready), that's what's going to happen. We left Hilly out to dry there, it's definitely embarrassing and something we need to wash away. I think it just starts with everyone being a leader, just doing the little things right. When the game starts, we've just got to come out better. When we play the right way, we're a good team." 

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Notable: 

  • Phil Kessel recorded three assists to register his team-leading, ninth multi-point game of the season. Kessel leads the Coyotes in scoring with 32 points (15G, 17A).
  • Nick Schmaltz scored his 10th goal of the season to become the sixth Coyote to reach double digits.
  • John Larsson registered an assist to extend his point streak to five games, the longest of his career.
  • Michael Bunting played his 11th consecutive road game to begin his NHL career, setting a new league record. 

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A Closer Look: Despite the loss, the Coyotes still own the fourth and final West Division playoff spot with 43 points. The fifth place St. Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 9-1 and are now just one point (42) behind the Coyotes. The sixth place San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 and are three points (40) behind the Coyotes. The Blues have one game in hand, the Sharks have two games in hand.

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Coyotes Lineup: 

Forwards

Bunting - Schmaltz - Garland

Crouse - Brassard - Pitlick

Keller - Dvorak - Fischer

Hunt - Larsson - Kessel 

Defensemen

Ekman-Larsson - Lyubushkin

Chychrun - Goligoski

Oesterle - Demers 

Scratches

Hayden 

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Roster Notes: Tyler Pitlick returned to the lineup after a seven-game absence due to a lower-body injury. Pitlick replaced Michael Chaput. Dryden Hunt returned to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch the previous four games, replacing Lane Pederson. Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper-body), Antti Raanta (lower-body) and Darcy Kuemper (lower-body) remain on the Injured Reserve list. 

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What's Next: The Coyotes have a practice scheduled Thursday afternoon in Vegas. They play the Golden Knights Sunday afternoon, 1:00 p.m., at T-Mobile Arena. 

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Photo of the Game: Clayton up close. Keller circles behind the goal-line moments after beating Robin Lehner on a breakaway in the third period. Keller's goal cut the Golden Knights' lead to 5-3.

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Highlights:

Video: Condensed Game: Coyotes @ Golden Knights

Lead Photo Credit: Ethan Miller - NHLI via Getty Images

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