Coyotes struggling, but aim for playoff push

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Glendale Star Staff Writer

After 37 games, the Arizona Coyotes are in playoff contention on a season where they are eight wins ahead of the pace they were on in 2017-18.
And all this is with some of their key pieces not having played much if any this season.
Center Christian Dvorak has not played in a single game, starting goaltender Antti Raanta has been out since late November and is probably out for the season with a lower body injury. Defenseman Michael Grabner has been out since Dec. 1 and Vinnie Hinostroza has been out since Dec. 6.
 As they begin the second half of the season, the Coyotes are next to last in the Pacific Division at 16-19-2 but are only seven points out of a playoff spot.
Over their past five games, the Coyotes have won two while dropping three after they had lost five straight to begin December.

COYOTES 6, COLORADO AVALANCHE 4
Brad Richardson scored the tiebreaking goal with just over three minutes left in the game as the Coyotes broke their three-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over Colorado at Gila River Arena Dec. 22. 
“I literally tried to shoot as quickly as I could on that (game-winning goal). It went through I think two of their guys’ legs, and I don’t think (Colorado’s Pavel Francouz) saw the shot at all,” Richardson said. “It just surprised him. It felt good to get that right after they scored.”
The Coyotes led 4-1 after the second period on goals by Stepan, Christian Fischer and Conor Garland. Colorado would tie the game up at four after goals by Gabriel Landeskog, Alexander Kerfoot and Nathan MacKinnon in the first nine minutes of the third period.
“We were actually pretty calm (when Colorado rallied from down 4-1),” Garland said. “We knew we were going to get a little push there and try to get one. … [Richardson’s] goal was huge.”
Richardson would add another with just over one minute left in the game on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line to seal the win.
Goaltender Adin Hill stopped 24 shots in the win.

COYOTES 4, SAN JOSE SHARKS 3 (OT)
Galchenyuk scored two goals and had the only goal in the shootout as the Coyotes defeated San Jose 4-3 Dec. 23 at SAP Center in San Jose.
Conor Garland scored for the Coyotes (16-18-2), who have won two games in a row after losing three straight. Kuemper made 35 saves, including eight in overtime, and denied all three Sharks he faced in the shootout.
Galchenyuk ended a 16-game goal drought with his first multi-goal game since being acquired by Arizona in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens on June 15.
“It’s my job, obviously,” Galchenyuk said. “It was frustrating without scoring for such a long period of time, trying to find my game. I knew sooner or later it was going to come. Stick to it, keep working. (Keller) made great plays to me. It was a great team win.”

LOS ANGELES KINGS 2, COYOTES 1
Kings Right-winger Dustin Brown scored 17 seconds into the third period as the Kings held on for a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes at Staples Center Dec. 27.
Kuemper made 24 saves in the loss as Jakob Chychrun scored the lone goal for the Coyotes.

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