Arizona Coyotes take the bite out of San Jose Sharks

The Arizona Coyotes fresh off a two game road trip came home to face the rival San Jose Sharks in a pivitol Pacific Division matchup.

Arizona Coyotes take the bite out of San Jose Sharks
Arizona Coyotes' Martin Hanzal got the game winner in this important game.  Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
San Jose Sharks
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Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes started a three game home stand and hoped to catch the travel weary San Jose Sharks off guard.  

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The opening on the roster due to Richardson's injury was filled by Christian Dvorak who was called up from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners. That leaves the team with one veteran center in Martin Hanzal, with Laurent Dauphin, Dvorak, and Dylan Strome all being rookies.

The Coyotes will be without center Brad Richardson for an indefinite period of time due to a severe leg injury, when he broke both his tibia and fibula bones in the Vancouver game.

First period saw the Coyotes score quickly

The Coyotes got on the scoreboard swiftly when at 1:55, Tobias Rieder scored his fifth goal of the season, with a nifty pass from Jordan Martinook as they skated in on a two-on-one break. It was Rieder's third goal in his last four games. 

The period saw a donnybrook fight between Micheal Haley of the Sharks against the Coyotes' tough guy Ryan White. Both pugilists got in some shots as if it were Saturday night at the fights.

Mike Smith's 43 saves were key to the Coyotes' victory. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
Mike Smith's 43 saves were key to the Coyotes' victory. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

The story of this initial period was the Sharks gathering 17 shots on Mike Smith, who managed to stop them all. That's too many shots for your goalie to stop and the Coyotes need to limit such an arsenal of rubber on their netminder.

Second period power play finally clicked

The Coyotes scored their second goal at 7:53 of the period when Max Domi lit the light on a shot from the left side which Sharks' goalie Martin Jones couldn't see, thanks to Hanzal's huge body screening him. 

The game would have seemed one-sided at this point if one were to see the shots on goal by the Sharks totaling 23 by the 12:00 minute mark, compared to the Coyotes 13. For whatever reason, the Coyotes maintained a two goal lead as the second stanza ended.

Most of that credit was due to some outstanding goaltending by Smith. 

Third period letdown

All the shots on net by the Sharks finally paid off when Coyotes' nemisis Joe Pavelski deflected a Justin Braun shot from the right point by Smith to ruin his shoutout bid at 0:41 of the period.

The Sharks followed up their first goal with the tiebreaker at 10:28 when Tommy Wingles scored on a deflection through a maze of players from the point. It seemed inevitable with the barrage of shots by the Sharks, that one would hit the mark. 

All of a sudden, the hard work the Coyotes displayed got them very little but a tied game. And, the period ended as a tied game, meaning this was the third consecutive overtime game for the Yotes.

Overtime winner

The Coyotes really needed a win, and Martin Hanzal gave them that with his overtime winner at 1:16. Alex Goligoski shot from the left point before Hanzal deflected it perfectly past Jones to end the game. Radim Vrbata also recorded an assist on the goal, giving him his 300th career point with the team, tying him with 16 other former Coyotes' players to accomplish that feat.

It took the Desert Dogs three overtime games to get two points in one, and this one really was a needed win.They dedicated to their injured teammate Brad Richardson who remains in a Vancouver hospital recovering.

Thoughts and prayers go out to Craig Cunningham as he collapsed before a game in Tucson. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
Thoughts and prayers go out to Craig Cunningham as he collapsed before a game in Tucson. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

An added note: The Coyotes had another player go down in Tucson this evening as Craig Cunningham collasped during the pre-game warmup. The game was called off due to the seriousness of what happened to Cunningham. His uniform was cut open, and chest compressions were being performed on him. 

According to a statement by Coyote's GM John Chayka:

"Arizona Coyotes center Craig Cunningham suffered a medical emergency on the ice prior to the start of tonight's game between the Tucson Roadrunners and the Manitoba Moose at the Tucson Convention Center. Cunningham was taken to a local hospital where he is receiving medical treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig and his family. We will provide a medical update once we receive more information.