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The Wrap: Dvorak's Shootout Dagger Seals Coyotes Comeback

Coyotes within four points of West Division playoff spot

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes
Final Score: Coyotes 5, Avalanche 4 F/SO
Record: 14-14-5
Standings: 5th-place, West Division

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The Coyotes came up from the depths of a late, two-goal, third period deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche, 5-4 in a shootout, Tuesday night at Gila River Arena.

Arizona jumped to fifth place in the West Division with the win, only four points back of the final playoff spot. 

"It's a huge, character win for us," Christian Dvorak said. "(We were) up 2-0 and then down 4-2. We could have just folded, but we had a huge comeback. We got a couple goals in the third and it was nice to win in the shootout."

Dvorak was the star of the shootout, again. He scored his league-leading fourth shootout goal and second game-deciding goal to seal the 5-4 win in the top of the third round. He went to his bread and butter - backhand, top shelf - a move he's pulled on five occasions this season (including a penalty shot February 22 against Anaheim).

"I decided to stick with the same move there," Dvorak said. "And it went in. Most of the time, if you're able to elevate (the puck) in tight, it's going to go in the back of the net." 

Dvorak's shootout winner would not have been if it weren't for the play of Adin Hill, who made a season-high 35 saves, including seven saves in overtime, to will the Coyotes to the come-from-behind victory. 

Hill's standout save came in the midst of an Avalanche power play with 2:30 remaining in overtime - a sprawling, pad-stack stop of a Cale Makar one-timer, which he followed with a blocker save on the ensuing rebound.

"A goalie's job every game is to just try and give your team a chance to win," Hill said. "It's huge, we got the win tonight."

"He's a battler, Hilly," said head coach Rick Tocchet. "He hasn't played (regularly) in a year, and all of a sudden he's back in the fold. We put him in tough spots, and he's done a nice job for us."

The Coyotes scored on two of their first three shots of the game courtesy Jakob Chychrun and Alex Goligoski to establish an early, 2-0 first period lead. The Avalanche responded with four straight goals to claim a 4-2 lead with 14:32 remaining in regulation.

Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel scored 2:03 apart to tie the game with 11:19 left in the third period.

The Coyotes put forth a perfect showing in the shootout with goals from Nick Schmaltz, Conor Garland and Dvorak. Hill turned away one of Colorado's two attempts to provide the gap the team needed.

"It feels good," Dvorak said. "it's huge to get the win there. We've been in a little bit of a rut offensively, we just tried not to get too frustrated, stick with it, and it was nice to seal the game there. It was a huge comeback win for us."

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The Game: 

First Period: Jakob Chychrun (1:25) and Alex Goligoski (4:52) scored early to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead. Gabriel Landeskog (14:47) and Mikko Rantanen (18:49) countered for the Avalanche to tie the game, 2-2.

Second Period: Nathan MacKinnon scored with 10 seconds remaining in the period to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead.

Third Period: Valeri Nichushkin increased the Avalanche lead to 4-2 at 5:28. Lawson Crouse cut the Coyotes' deficit to 4-3 at 6:38. Phil Kessel tied the game, 4-4, at 8:41.

Overtime: No scoring.

Shootout: Nick Schmaltz (Round 1), Conor Garland (Round 2) and Christian Dvorak (Round 3) scored for the Coyotes. Joonas Donskoi (Round 1) scored for the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon (Round 2) was denied.

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Statistics:

SOG: ARI - 32, COL - 39

PP: ARI - 0/4, COL - 1/4

Hits: ARI - 35, COL - 25

Blocks: ARI - 19, COL - 10

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Tocchet's Take: "I thought we battled all night. We were down to fumes, guys were hurt. The penalty kill was good, that's a hell of a team over there and we held on a couple times. (We scored) a couple big goals to tie it up. I just thought we battled, everybody battled, we scraped some lines together and we killed that penalty at the end. It's a great win for us, a great win."

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Adin Hill said: "We came out with a good performance tonight. We came out right from the start, playing the way we wanted and playing our brand of hockey. It turned out well. We went up 2-0 early, lost a little momentum, but it was a tight game all the way through. I thought our guys did an amazing job to keep the momentum going, keep playing our game and not get desperate. It paid off in the end."

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Notable:

  • The Coyotes earned their fourth multi-goal comeback win of the season. Only the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have more (5).
  • Phil Kessel scored his 10th goal of the season and is tied with Clayton Keller for the team lead.
  • The Coyotes improved to 8-0-0 this season when Jakob Chychrun scores a goal.
  • John Hayden registered his first point as a Coyote with the primary assist on Lawson Crouse's goal.

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A Closer Look: Christian Dvorak leads the NHL with four shootout goals this season. Dvorak is 4-for-4 this year, and is the only player with more than two attempts to have a 100 percent conversion rate. Dvorak, Conor Garland (3-for-5) and Nick Schmaltz (3-for-5) are a combined 10-for-14 in shootouts this season.

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Coyotes Lineup:

Forwards

Keller - Larsson - Kessel

Hunt - Dvorak - Garland

Crouse - Brassard - Pitlick

Fischer - Schmaltz - Hayden 

Defensemen

Chychrun - Goligoski

Ekman-Larsson - Lyubushkin

Oesterle - Demers

Scratches

Caggiula 

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Roster Notes: Antti Raanta (lower-body) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper-body) were moved to the Injured Reserve list prior to the game. Ivan Prosvetov served as back-up to Adin Hill for the third time this season. Dryden Hunt returned to the lineup for the first time since March 14. Jason Demers returned to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch the previous three games.

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What's Next: The Coyotes have a scheduled off-day Wednesday and will practice Thursday. They play the San Jose Sharks Friday night, 7 p.m., at Gila River Arena.

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Photo of the Game: Shootout slick. Conor Garland beats Jonas Johansson with a quick move to his forehand to score in the second round of the shootout.

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Postgame Interviews: Adin Hill, Christian Dvorak and Rick Tocchet

Video: Postgame: Mar. 23 vs. COL (5-4 SOW)

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Highlights:

Video: Coyotes rally in 3rd, top Avalanche in shootout

Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images

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