What a difference a game can make. When the Coyotes played the Flames they were on the second game of a back to back and they gave up seven goals in a loss. On Wednesday the San Jose Sharks were on the second game of a back to back and the Coyotes beat them 6-3. With the win the Coyotes are currently four points out of the playoffs in the extremely crowded Western Conference with a game in hand.
The 6-3 winning effort saw the Coyotes get a lot of what they have been needing this season. Ten players registered a point with Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse notching multiple points, both registering a goal and an assist. High offense players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Galchenyuk netted goals, along with secondary scoring from players like Josh Archibald and Richard Panik. The newest Coyote Jordan Weal, who has been playing well since being acquired by Arizona, notched his first point as a Coyote.
While the Coyotes penalty kill finally allowed a goal, they also managed a short handed goal when Richard Panik got the puck on a break away. The power play notched a rather interesting goal, and though Conor Garland didn’t get an assist he was instrumental in forcing a turnover to Alex Galchenyuk.
Arizona managed to outshoot their opponents every period, finishing the game outshooting San Jose 41-29. The biggest concern may be the faceoff circle, with San Jose winning 60% of the faceoffs.
In what may be a sign of how competitive the East is, the Penguins are a Wild Card team with only a two point lead. They have a game in hand against the Buffalo Sabres, the next team, but a seven point lead against the next team the Carolina Hurricanes. In the six games in January they have won three and lost three, losing to the Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Their wins have been impressive though, holding the New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, and Florida Panthers to two or fewer goals.
It should come as no surprise that the Penguins are a high offense team, they are currently sixth in the league in goals for having scored 162 this season. Even though they score a lot they are still defensively solid, tenth in the league in goals against allowing only 135 goals. They have an extremely good power play (fifth in the league) and an extremely good penalty kill (third in the league).
For a team that scores as much as they do they surprisingly only have two players with more then twenty goals already, Jake Guentzel (23) and Sidney Crosby (20). Its little over halfway through the season though so expect players like Phil Kessel (18), Evgeni Malkin (14), and Patric Hornqvist (15) to also reach the 20 goal plateau. Pittsburgh also has been getting solid goaltending, with Casey DeSmith being extremely good in his first full season with the Penguins (2.49 goals against average, .921 save percentage) and Matt Murray continuing to be a solid goaltender (2.91 goals against average, .911 save percentage)
Players to Watch
Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson – For a lot of the season the Coyotes needed OEL to be better. Defensively he has been much better, but he also scored the game winning goal on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh: Jake Guentzel – In his third season with the Penguins Guentzel already has a career high 23 goals in just 46 games. Guentzel was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft, and while he has taken some time developing he is definitely proving to be worth the wait.
Can the Coyotes overcome Pittsburgh’s top 5power play and penalty kill?
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Source: Yahoo Sports