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The Wrap: Hill and Phil (The Thrill) Lead Coyotes Past Sharks

Coyotes earn third straight win, move into a tie for final West Division playoff spot

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes
Final Score: Coyotes 4, Sharks 0
Record: 16-14-5
Standings: 5th-place, West Division

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Adin Hill pitched his second career shutout and Phil Kessel scored his seventh career hat trick. 

The two players' standout performances propelled the Coyotes to a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

The Coyotes are now tied in points (37) with the St. Louis Blues for the fourth, and final West Division playoff spot. They posted a 3-1-0 record on the four-game home stand, earning six of eight points.

Kessel's three goals thrust him into sole possession for the team-lead in goals with 14.

"Obviously (scoring a hat trick) feels good," Kessel said. "I had an empty-netter and a lucky one in front of the net, but I'll take it. It's nice. When it's going in, it's a good feeling, and hopefully it continues."

Hill made 34 saves - 17 of which came in the first period -- to earn his third straight win.

"I think the last three games here we've played unbelievable at home," Hill said. "It's a huge six points for us, especially before this long road trip. We're playing the right way. We're playing detailed and we're playing to our identity."

Clayton Keller opened the scoring five minutes into the second period, beating Devan Dubnyk with a short side wrist shot on an odd-man rush.

Then, Kessel took over. He scored the Coyotes' ensuing three goals to record a natural hat trick. Kessel doubled the Coyotes' lead, 2-0, late in the second period, and added a power play goal (3-0) and an empty net goal (4-0) in the third period.

The Coyotes have benefited from a surge in scoring of late, combining for 20 goals in their previous five games.

"We've been getting the puck up (the ice) and we've been trying to get more shots on net to create more offense," Kessel said. "It seems to be working right now. We have great goalies here, too. So, when we can put some goals in the net, I think we're going to have a pretty good chance to win most nights."

Johan Larsson left the game with 12:58 remaining in the third period after taking a high, blindside hit from Kurtis Gabriel. Gabriel was penalized with a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

Head coach Rick Tocchet is cautiously optimistic about Larsson's status.

"Anytime you take a heavy hit to the head, it's dangerous," Tocchet said. "(Phil Housley) went and talked to him. He doesn't think it's that bad. But you never know with these things. Anytime you get hit in the head, you know, things (can) happen 24 hours later. Hopefully he's fine."

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The Game:

First Period: No scoring.

Second Period: Clayton Keller (5:49) and Phil Kessel (14:16) scored to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.

Third Period: Kessel scored two more goals, a power play goal at 14:03 and an empty-net goal at 17:28, to record a hat trick and give the Coyotes a 4-0 lead.

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Statistics: 

SOG: ARI - 27, SJS - 34

PP: ARI - 1/6, SJS - 0/1

Hits: ARI - 30, SJS - 35

Blocks: ARI - 11, SJS - 14

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Tocchet's Take: "(Phil Kessel) has been opportunistic. He's gotten a couple shots off on the power play where he's coming downhill and shooting. Those are good. A lot of Phil's goals this year have been in front of the net, whacking and hacking. That's good to see. When Phil's doing that, that's a good thing. He's just being opportunistic for us, and that's big for us that he scores. When Phil gets on a hot streak, it's good, it's good for us."

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Phil Kessel said: "We've got a great group of guys here, we're right (in the playoff race) and we're battling. We've just got to keep going. We have a tough road trip here. Hopefully we can get some (more) wins, and we'll be right in it to finish the year off."

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Notable:

  • Phil Kessel scored his seventh career hat trick, and his first as a Coyote. He leads the Coyotes with 14 goals this season and extended his point streak to five games (5G, 3A).
  • Clayton Keller registered his seventh, multi-point game of the year (1G, 2A) and leads the Coyotes with 28 points.
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson recorded an assist to pass Jeremy Roenick and Laurie Boschman for the eighth-most points (380) in franchise history.

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A Closer Look: The Coyotes have scored a power play goal in four of their previous five games. They improved to 12-4-1 this year when scoring a power play goal. Phil Kessel, the Coyotes' power play goal-scorer Saturday night, leads the team with nine power play points. Since 2010-11, Kessel has led his team in power play points in every season except for 2015-16.

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Coyotes Lineup:

Forwards

Keller - Larsson - Kessel

Fischer - Dvorak - Garland

Hunt - Brassard - Crouse

Caggiula - Schmaltz - Hayden

Defensemen

Chychrun - Goligoski

Ekman-Larsson - Lyubushkin

Oesterle - Demers

Scratches

Bunting

Gross

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Roster Notes: Tyler Pitlick (lower-body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper-body), Antti Raanta (lower-body) and Darcy Kuemper (lower-body) remain on the Injured Reserve list. Jordan Gross and Michael Bunting were recalled from the taxi squad prior to the game and served as healthy scratches. Johan Larsson left the game midway through the third period after taking a high hit from San Jose's Kurtis Gabriel. 

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What's Next: The Coyotes have a scheduled off-day Sunday and will next practice on Monday at Gila River Arena. They play the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night, 6:30 p.m., at Ball Arena.

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Photo of the Game: Putting it all on the line. Phil Kessel muscles his way through two Sharks defenders to score his second goal of the game, giving the Coyotes a 3-0 lead late in the third period.

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Highlights:

Video: Kessel records hat trick, Hill earns shutout in win

Lead Photo Credit: Kelsey Grant - Arizona Coyotes

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