Arizona Coyotes defeat San Jose Sharks to keep playoff hopes alive
Joy for Arizona while disappointment on the Sharks' bench (Photo:  

A group effort by the Arizona Coyotes dispatched a strong San Jose Sharks' team

Both teams arrived in Gila River Arena with very different moments in their respective seasons. While the San Jose Sharks were amongst the top of the Pacific Division and in a seven-game winning streak, the Arizona Coyotes were back home after a heavy loss in their recent road trip.

The night started really well for the home team when power forward Lawson Crouse scored on a shot from mid-range that easily beat Sharks' goaltender Aaron Dell.

The second goal for the "Yotes" was a team special of the season. Even with the absence of Michael Grabner and Brad Richardson, Richard Panik in a breakaway scored another shorthanded goal - the 12th for the team in the season.

Kevin Labanc scored on a rebound shot from the slot just two minutes after to cut the lead in half and give hope for the visiting Californian fans in the arena.

Newest Coyotes' goal-scoring co-leader on the season Christian Fischer tallied his 11th goal of the season on a beauty of a play in which he performed a wraparound by All-Star defenseman, Erik Karlsson.

Captain Ekman-Larsson enters franchise record list

Biggest milestone of the night was yet to be accomplished when Clayton Keller set up the team captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson who scored the fourth goal for the Coyotes in the game and a goal which tied him with Teppo Numminen as the franchise all-time leading defenseman in goals.

Two defensive mistakes, however, revived the Sharks' hopes in the game with goals from Evander Kane (after a poor turnover) and Logan Couture who took the opportunity early on a power-play.

Desperation caught the visiting opposition, who pulled their goalie and thanks to the effort of rookie of Conor Garland, Alex Galchenyuk and Josh Archibald was able to score two empty-net goals to give the game's final numbers. It was a 6-3 victory for the Coyotes and another win for Darcy Kuemper who made 26 saves in the game.

"Look at the (Western Conference) standings right now, and it's wide open. We have a lot of injuries, but we're finding ways to get points," Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. "We've got to try to get as many points as we can."

"We had a lot of guys contribute," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. "I think everybody did something for us to win this game. They are a [Stanley] Cup favorite, so it was nice to win that game."

The next challenge for the Arizona Coyotes is on Friday night when they host Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh Penguins at Gila River Arena.

Can the Coyotes keep this playoff push against Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin in town? Let us know in the comment section below!