Coyotes hold off ‘desperate’ Sharks with late empty-net goals 6-3 photo: Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall (91) scores a goal as Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (18), San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro (38) and Sharks defenseman Radim Simek (51) look on during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz.

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. — If there’s such a thing as key empty-net goals, the Arizona Coyotes came up with two of them to put away the San Jose Sharks Tuesday.

With the Sharks mounting a late rally, Hunter Garland and Taylor Hall each converted empty-netters to seal a 6-3 victory, as Arizona moved back into first place in the NHL Pacific Division while snapping a three-game losing skid and stopping San Jose’s winning streak at two.

With the Coyotes leading 4-2 in the third period, Evander Kane scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season on the power play to pull the Sharks to within 4-3.

In the final two minutes, Conor Garland and Taylor Hall each popped in empty-net tallies while San Jose was employing a sixth attacker.

“It was just simple plays that got us back in it in the third period,” Hall, who had two goals and an assist, said. “In that third period, we played to our talent really well.”

Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said, “I liked our response against San Jose. They were making a press there in the second. They’re a good team; we were playing a desperate team and I thought we answered the bell when we had to.”

Kessel’s 10th goal of the season for Arizona opened the scoring at 12:03 of the first period. After Derek Stepan dug the puck out along the boards in the neutral zone, he sent a headman pass to Kessel, who fired a wrister from the right circle over San Jose goaltender Aaron Dell’s glove and off the crossbar.

Arizona made it 2-0 on its second power play opportunity. With Stefan Noesen serving a tripping minor, Kessel scored his second goal of the night, taking a centering pass from Christian Dvorak from behind the net and sent a one-timer from the slot past Dell at 5:01 of the second period.

San Jose responded at 6:42 of the second when Kevin Labanc mopped up on Kane’s original shot from just outside the crease, pushing It past Adin Hill, cutting the Arizona lead to 2-1.

Nearly three minutes later, Timo Meier scored the equalizer on his 16th goal of the season. Patrick Marleau threaded the needle on a lead pass to Meier, who slipped a wrist shot past Hill.

“Even in the first period, we played well,” Meier said. “We made some mistakes and gave them some chances. They cashed in on some and in the second period, we came back. We fought back, and in the end, we couldn’t finish it.”

Arizona regained the lead at 17:14 of the second period, when Hall took a rebound and redirected Jordan Oesterle’s original shot from the deep slot for his 11th goal.

Lawson Crouse’s 11th goal of the season put the Coyotes up 4-2 at 8:09 of the third period.

“I thought we were resilient coming back from (being down) 2-0, even at the end on the goalie-pull coming back,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “We didn’t execute well enough tonight. It started on our breakouts. I think we were sloppy going back or making clean exits.

“I thought that we got sloppy a little bit on our penalty kills, and that’s what happens.”

The Sharks’ road trip continues at Colorado on Thursday and Vancouver on Saturday before taking their nine-day break.

“We were sloppy on execution, turning over pucks at the wrong time in the wrong situations,” Boughner said. “Give those guys (Coyotes) credit. They played well. I don’t think that we thought we were ever out of the game.

“We kept pushing, but tonight we just weren’t good enough. It’s one of those games where we’re going to have to make some corrections and come out a little more structured against Colorado.”

SHARK BITES: Arizona’s Taylor Hall recorded his 132nd career multi-point game and his third since joining the Coyotes. … Coyotes RW Phil Kessel recorded his 55th career multi-goal game. … San Jose scratches were Logan Couture (injured), Tim Heed and Joachim Blichfeld. Blichfeld was called up from the AHL Barracuda on Monday. … Coming into the game, the Sharks own the NHL’s best penalty kill, killing off 88.2 percent. San Jose also leads the NHL with least power play goals allowed with 20. … Attendance at Gila River Arena was 14,716.

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