Keller nets his 2nd hat trick; Coyotes handle Vegas 4-1
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Keller had his second hat trick of the season and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Golden Knights 4-1 on Sunday night, their second victory in the last 13 games.
Dylan Guenther scored and Karel Vejmelka had 35 saves for the Coyotes, who had been shut out in their last two games. Keller has a team-high 18 goals but had only one in his previous 10 games.
“It’s been tough last couple of games or so,” Keller said. “It was nice to see some goals go in, too. Long season. You are going to go through tough times. Sometimes you don’t get the bounces you maybe deserve, and I think that’s something that I’ve learned playing in this league. Just not getting frustrated and sticking with it.”
Phil Kessel scored and Logan Thompson had 19 saves for Vegas, which has lost four of five and has 12 goals in that span.
Keller score twice in the third period to build on a 2-1 lead, the last into an open net with 4:08 remaining after the Knights pulled Thompson with 5:30 left. Thompson returned after that goal. Both teams were playing then second of back-to-back games.
Linemate Nick Schmaltz assisted on both Keller goals, the last when he passed up a shot at an open net to feed Keller.
“That’s the type of guy he is,” Keller said. “I think we both do that for each other every single night, no matter who it is on the team.”
The Coyotes are 9-7-2 at home and have beaten Atlantic Division leader and Pacific Division leader Vegas in 5,000-seat Mullett Arena. Every other team has played at least 21 home games.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Arizona coach André Tourigny said. “It’s a journey. You need to build your culture, your program, every day. The players know where we are going. That doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating. It is. We want it to be frustrating in the sense of we want our guys to be competitors and wanting to win every night. We need to build our foundation brick by brick.”
Guenther scored first two minutes into the game when he beat Thompson high to the glove side after a slick pass Nick Bjugstad from behind the net. His goal ended the Coyotes’ 134-minute scoring drought in regulation and was their first since Guenther scored early in the third period of a 4-3 overtime victory over Detroit on Tuesday.
Keller made it 2-0 after picking up a loose puck in the slot on a feed from Schmaltz 90 seconds into the second period.
“What should have happened today is we should have been better defensively,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said, “so you don’t put so much pressure on yourself because you are still winning even through you are not scoring.
“It could have easily been a 1-1, 2-1 game if we protect the slot.”
Guenther has three goals and an assist in nine games since returning from the World Junior Championships, where he scored the gold medal-winning goal for Canada in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Czech Republic.
Golden Knights F Mark Stone (upper body) missed his fifth straight game. Stone is second on the team with 17 goals and 38 points. … Coyotes F Matias Maccelli (lower body) missed his 15th straight game but is close to returning. Despite the time off, Maccelli is tied for third among rookies with 19 assists and is fifth with 22 points. … Coyotes F Lawson Crouse (upper body) missed his third straight game. … Kessel has 406 goals, one short of becoming one of top 100 NHL career goal scorers. … F William Karlsson assisted on Kessel’s goal, his 200th career assist.
Golden Knights: Play at New Jersey on Tuesday in the second game of a six-game trip.
Coyotes: Host Anaheim on Tuesday.
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