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game recap

Kessel scores twice for Coyotes in win against Predators

Kuemper makes 23 saves for Arizona, which gets three goals on power play

by Alan Robinson / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Kessel scores second PPG

NSH@ARI: Kessel fires home second power-play goal

Clayton Keller sets up Phil Kessel for his second power-play goal of the game, as the Coyotes extend their lead to 4-1 in the 3rd period

  • 00:51 •

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Kessel scored his first two goals for the Arizona Coyotes in a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Gila River Arena on Thursday.

Jakob Chychrun scored his first of the season, and Nick Schmaltz, Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan each had two assists for Arizona (3-2-1), which went 3-for-6 on the power play. Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in his Coyotes-record 12th consecutive start allowing two goals or fewer.

"We could have won them all so far. We're playing well," said Kessel, who was traded to Arizona by the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29. "If we keep building, we're going to be a real tough team. Guys are confident. Guys are working for each other and playing hard."

 

[WATCH: All Predators vs. Coyotes highlights]

 

Dante Fabbro and Nick Bonino scored, and Juuse Saros made 27 saves for Nashville (4-3-0), which played without forward Filip Forsberg (lower-body injury), who is day to day.

"If it weren't for Juuse, they would have scored 14 goals," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.

Christian Dvorak gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 6:06 of the first period, scoring from the left face-off circle with a wrist shot over Saros' right shoulder.

Kessel made it 2-0 at 10:34 on a give-and-go with Keller on the power play.

Video: NSH@ARI: Kessel scores first goal with Coyotes

"He creates so much every night, so you know [a goal] is coming sooner than later," Schmaltz said of Kessel, who has 53 multigoal games in the NHL. "It's always great to see a guy like that get his first out of the way and build more confidence. He's a difference-maker in this League and has been for a long time."

Fabbro cut it to 2-1 at 3:13 of the second, but Chychrun made it 3-1 at 14:27 with a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Schmaltz on the power play.

"That's a huge goal and that's what we've been getting lately," Kuemper said. "We kind of controlled the game from there on in."

Video: NSH@ARI: Fabbro snaps shot in off the post

Kessel's second goal on the power play extended Arizona's lead to 4-1 at 5:43 of the third. The Coyotes are 5-for-8 with the man-advantage in their past two games.

"He wasn't panicking," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said of Kessel. "He's been getting his looks. We've got to get him the puck in that (slot) area because he's a home-run hitter, and we did."

Bonino scored at 16:39 on a redirection of Ryan Ellis' shot to cut it to 4-2, but Carl Soderberg scored into an empty net 31 seconds later for the 5-2 final.

Video: NSH@ARI: Bonino deflects puck by Kuemper

"It wasn't a great game from us," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "They were the better team and we got what we deserved. We came out flat and didn't win any battles."

Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle was hit in the back of the head on a shot by Ellis 17 seconds into the first period and did not return. Tocchet said he needed stitches and was being evaluated.

"Our identity is we defend the puck well," Tocchet said. "We hang our hat on that, and guys take it personal. I give the players credit because they stuck with the game plan."

 

They said it

"Obviously, a lot of penalties and it hurt our team's chances to provide offense. It's a game we kind of want to wipe away and regather our focus." -- Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro

"Whenever the power play can contribute on a given night is huge because the 5-on-5 play is so tight. It's been kind of building and we got three big [power-play goals] tonight. You know you're not going to score two or three every night, but I think we can continue to get momentum and play with confidence out there." -- Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz

 

Need to know

Daniel Carr took Forsberg's place on a line with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund line to start the game and had three shots in 6:31 of ice time. … Nashville has allowed 28 goals in seven games. … Arizona is 6-1-0 in its past seven home games against Nashville. … Kuemper is the 21st NHL goalie to allow two goals or fewer in at least 12 consecutive starts. … Schmaltz has seven points (three goals, four assists) during a four-game point streak. … Coyotes forward Michael Grabner played in his 600th NHL game.

 

What's next

Predators: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Coyotes: Host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, CITY, TVAS, FS-A, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)

Video: Kessel scores twice as Coyotes top Predators

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