Coach Rick Tocchet (left) and his Arizona Coyotes defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-3 in the NHL on Saturday, January 16, (Photo by Michael Miller, cc-by-sa-4.0, https: // bit. ly / 38SgO6G)
Expecting to give Arizona a huge goal boost, he instead struggled with injuries and his production suffered as a result.
Kessel scored two goals, Antti Raanta stopped 31 shots, and the Coyotes bounced back from an opening loss to defeat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Saturday.
« It’s good to have a good start after last season, » said Kessel. « It couldn’t have gotten worse for me personally, so it’s nice to start well and hopefully I can continue. »
The Coyotes took the biggest step of the 2019 season by taking over Pittsburgh-based Kessel. The Coyotes were consistently among the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL, and Kessel was one of the league’s most prolific players, scoring at least 60 points eight times in his career.
Kessel never lived up to expectations, in large part due to injuries fulfilled and scored 14 goals and 24 assists in 70 games.
The 33-year-old has worked hard in the short spare time since the NHL bubble and it has paid off. He scored the crucial goal in the last few seconds of the opener and scored goals in each of the first two periods on Saturday.
« When you’re in a little crisis, it’s difficult, » said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet. “When these guys score goals early, they feel it. You get hot. I’ve seen it get hot for two or three weeks and hopefully this is one of those times. “
Arizona got off to a sluggish start before waking up late to life in a shootout against San Jose on Thursday night.
Clayton Keller scored for the second straight time and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had three assists for Arizona. Jakob Chychrun and Barrett Hayton also scored.
Timo Meier had a goal and an assist, and Martin Jones allowed the Haie five goals out of 24 shots. Ryan Donato and Tomas Hertl also scored a goal.
« I thought we were more structured and played together than in the first game, » said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. « We’re looking for that timely goal. »
San Jose won the opening series with two games 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday night. In that game, the Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the first half, but Arizona scored two goals – one from Kessel 3.2 seconds ahead – in the final at 3:30 am to force overtime.
San Jose went up early in the rematch and scored a goal from Timo Meier 3 1/2 minutes after a power play.
Kessel didn’t wait that long for the decisive goal and scored a backhand shot in a power play in the middle of the first half . Hayton then gave the Coyotes their first lead of the season, hitting Jones side of the stick on a shot that hit the crossbar.
Meier tied it less than two minutes later when his cross came from a skate in front of Raanta late in time.
Kessel scored again in the second half and shot Oliver Ekman-Larsson out of the right circle. Chychrun scored the 4-2 with a shot over the left circle. Martin struggled to see through traffic.
Keller, who scored the first of Arizona’s two late goals on Thursday, gave the Coyotes a three-goal lead when he scored a rebound early in the third half / p> « We created a lot of good opportunities, but we gave up too many opportunities, » said Sharks center Logan Couture. « But it’s the second game. We have to build on the good things we did. »
Ekman-Larsson linked his career with the three assists, but scored in the third half from Evander Kane. The captain of the Coyotes looked a little dazed and was bleeding from his face before the ice helped him. He didn’t return. Arizona won 55% of their first game fixtures, but it didn’t pay off. The Coyotes increased it to 64% in Saturday’s game and it helped set off their offensive blast.
« It’s something we need to get a lot better at, » said Boughner. « » We fought in the face-off circle, even in the first game.
Arizona: Play the Golden Knights for the first of four consecutive games on Monday in Vegas.
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