By Aljamin Santos
EBC Las Vegas Bureau
LAS VEGAS, NV (Eagle News) – With just 26 games left in the regular season, the divisional game between the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights could be the start to a shift in the western conference.
The Coyotes, who broke a five-game losing streak against the Dallas Stars, needed to win this matchup. The Golden Knights, having suffered a loss to the Blue Jackets Saturday evening, sat third in the division and fourth in the conference and were looking to get a win at home.
After an uneventful first period, the second started with the Coyotes’ Michael Bunting called for goaltender interference resulting in the first power play opportunity for the Golden Knights, but Vegas failed to convert.
At 11:24, Golden Knights’ forward, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was charged with a holding penalty giving the Coyotes their first power play of the game. Defenseman Jordan Oesterle scored, assisted by Derek Stepan and Jakob Chychrun. After many defensive plays on both ends of the ice, the Coyotes Alex Galchenyuk scored Arizona’s second goal assisted by Nick Cousins.
The Golden Knights return an even strength goal by Brandon Pirri assisted by Cody Eakin and Jon Merrill just 29 seconds after the Coyotes score their second of the game to make it 2-1 with less than 5 minutes remaining.
With 3:27 left in the second period, a penalty shot was awarded to the Golden Knights, but Reilly Smith failed to take advantage of the opportunity as the puck hit the goal pole before it bounced out. The Golden Knights, however, tied the game near the end of the 2nd period when Nate Schmidt scored with a wrist shot assisted by Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny. This was Schmidt’s 100th career goal.
The Coyotes began the third period in a power play position after the Golden Knights were assessed a hooking penalty just before the end of the second period by Brayden McNabb.
Another penalty followed at 17:11 for tripping by Stastny. Despite the power play to the Coyotes, the Golden Knights maintained their defensive stance spoiling the advantage.
After multiple shots on the Coyotes goal, Arizona’s defense held and returned to score the Coyotes third goal by Nick Cousins.
The Golden Knights effort to tie the game was spoiled by the Coyotes’ Josh Archibald’s backhand goal assisted by Derek Stepan and Niklas Hjalmarsson putting the Golden Knights against the barriers with a score of 4-2 at 17:48 in the 3rd period.
As the Golden Knights removed Marc-Andre Fleury from his post, the Coyotes ended the game with another goal against an empty net by Richard Panik assisted by Vinnie Hinostroza and Hjalmarsson.
The final score was 5- 2 in the Coyotes favor.
(Eagle News Service)