GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)
The Arizona Coyotes had good reason to be lacking energy Saturday night, playing their fourth game in six days and their league-high 65th game of the season against one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
They responded with their highest scoring game of the campaign.
Clayton Keller and Conor Garland each had two goals and an assist and Arizona beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3.
Keller’s goal on a breakaway at 11:51 of the third period gave Arizona a two-goal advantage. Garland added a power-play goal at 14:28, and Derek Stepan scored with 1:14 to play.
Carl Soderberg and Brad Richardson scored and Taylor Hall had two assists. Antti Raanta made 27 saves. Arizona lost a two-goal lead during a wild second period, but picked up its third straight win at home with four unanswered goals and moved back into wild card position in the Western Conference.
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said he didn’t want his team to be embarrassed by the high-scoring Lightning after Arizona lost 1-0 at St. Louis two night earlier.
“To me, it was just a complete effort from everybody. I just felt that we stuck to the game plan,” Tocchet said. “Our team is frustrating because when we stick to the game plan we can be a good team. We had that lead and then we started getting out of our comfort zone again and made a couple mistakes, but then we regained it. I really liked our third period because we kept pressing, we didn’t back up and that’s the way you have to win in this league.”
Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point scored and Cameron Gaunce had two assists for the Lightning, who lost their second straight after their franchise-record 11-game winning streak came to an end. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 34 shots.
The Lightning have lost back-to-back games for the first time since November 16 and 19.
“It’s extremely disappointing. We’re a much better team than them,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Arizona evened the score at 1 with 2:24 to play in the period. Garland gathered in the rebound of Ilya Lyubushkin’s shot and scored from the opposite side. It was Garland’s team-leading 21st of the season.
Seventy seconds later, Alex Goligoski dropped the puck off for Keller, who zipped a high wrist shot past Vasilevskiy for a 2-1 Coyotes lead after one period.
“I think the last five games, I’ve been getting some chances and a lot of zone time,” Keller said. “I just have to keep working, keep shooting the puck and doing the right things away from the rink and good things start to happen.”
The Coyotes took advantage of an early second-period power play. As it wound down, Garland moved in on goal and turned around a defender enough to backhand a pass into the middle, where Soderberg was waiting and scored at 5:51.
The teams combined for three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 19 seconds of the second.
The Lightning made it 3-2 at 8:45 of the second on Palat’s rebound of a shot by Gaunce that Raanta saved initially. Moments later, Point put in a loose puck for his 22nd goal, set up by the efforts of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, tying the score at 3-all.
The Coyotes responded quickly. Hall overpowered Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn to force a turnover, then passed out from the boards while on his knees to Richardson, who scored his fifth of the season.
“We’ve been battling injuries for a long time now and I think we’ve done a great job overcoming that,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “Bottom line is that we have to play better and not give up this many goals and be better as a team.”
NOTES: Coyotes G Darcy Kuemper, an All-Star this season, was assigned to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL for conditioning purposes and played there Saturday. He’s missed more than two months with a lower body injury, and could play as soon as the Coyotes’ next game. … The Coyotes were without two other key contributors, D Jakob Chychrun and F Christian Fischer, out with lower body injuries. Chychrun could miss the next few games, coach Rick Tocchet said. … Lightning D Erik Cernak left the game in the second period with a lower body injury and didn’t return. … 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers attended the game, hearing a mixture of boos and cheers despite wearing a Coyotes jersey and being from nearby Chandler, Arizona.
Tampa Bay: Hosts Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, the first game of five straight at home.
Arizona: Hosts the Florida Panthers Tuesday night.
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