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Arizona Coyotes’ 2nd straight loss wasn’t for lack of effort vs. Sharks

Arizona Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (83) loses his helmet as San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun (61) and Coyotes center Derek Stepan (21) battle for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 5-3. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Looking at the box score, there was something familiar about the Coyotes’ loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

The Coyotes gave up a go-ahead goal in the third period. Their opponent scored an empty-netter to double the lead. Game over.

It might sound like the game on Thursday against the Washington Capitals that had that same result, and the Coyotes lost 4-2. But when Arizona lost 5-3 to San Jose on Saturday, there was a far different winding path that got them there than the one that brought them defeat two nights earlier.

This one was different.

“I wasn’t frustrated tonight. I was actually proud of the guys, they worked hard,” head coach Rick Tocchet said.

Tocchet expressed his and the coaching staff’s frustration with the team after the last game, in which they lost 4-2 to the Washington Capitals after giving up a goal in the third period, followed by the empty-netter. But in that game, Tocchet said he thought his team “sat back,” taking its foot off the proverbial gas pedal and allowing the Capitals to take the win.

But on Saturday, Arizona trailed 3-0 at one point and scored three unanswered goals to tie it 3-3. Lukas Radil scored his first career goal for the Sharks to make it 4-3 before Clayton Keller had a close call that was ruled a no-goal, even after video review. That may have been the difference-maker in the game.

“We thought we got [the go-ahead goal] back, but it was inconclusive and then we tried to make a push,” Tocchet said.

“Even though it was 2-0 there, I thought we were okay. Just a couple breakdowns on our end, it ended up in our net. But like I said, we battled back. Just couldn’t find the go-ahead.”

Nick Schmaltz, Brad Richardson and Richard Panik scored for Arizona in the loss. The top line of Alex Galchenyk, Clayton Keller and Schmaltz has been productive since the latter came over from Chicago in a trade. Schmaltz has produced at a point-per-game pace since that trade, scoring three goals with three assists in five games.

“Both skilled players and they’ve been really fun to play with, Schmaltzy’s good at creating space for me,” Keller said. “He’s able to dish it and I’m able to give it back. He can shoot it. He can do it all, so it’s been great to play with those two guys.”

Keller nearly added another point for that line with his near-goal in the third period.

“Schmaltzy makes a great play to me there and I get a shot off and try to do a wraparound there,” Keller said. “Who knows if it went in? It was under him, so kind of tough to see. So, a little unlucky.”

A comeback win for the Coyotes would’ve been their first comeback from a three-goal deficit since Feb. 8 of last year at Minnesota.

“I thought we did a great job getting back in it,” Richardson said. “We stayed composed, we didn’t really changed our game, we just kept going. Overall I thought we played fairly well. And then they score that one and it took a little bit of the wind out of our sails.”

Richardson’s goal on Saturday was his eighth of the season, which is now tied with Clayton Keller for the team lead.

Arizona was outshot 33-20. Goaltender Adin Hill made the start once again, stopping 28 of 32 shots faced. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Radil and Tomas Hertl (empty-netter) scored for San Jose.

“We played hard. 3-0 to that team, we come back, four or five minutes left [it’s a] tie game, just like the Washington game,” Tocchet said. “So we’re right there, it’s just a couple things happened there. But we battled hard. I’m proud of the guys, the guys worked hard tonight.”


–Conor Garland made his NHL debut on Saturday and played 10:30 of ice time, largely on a line with Derek Stepan and Christian Fischer.

“You put him in a tough spot,” Tocchet said. “You put him with Step’ and he was going against Couture’s line, I’m throwing him right in the fire. And I thought he was fine.”

Garland registered a shot on goal.

“They’re a really good team, it was a fast-paced game,” Garland said. “So obviously I tried to play fast and just learn my way as it goes.”

–The Coyotes announced Saturday that forward Vinnie Hinostroza, who left Thursday’s game, was week-to-week with a lower-body injury and is on injured-reserve. The team’s update on Friday for goaltender Antti Raanta was the exact same.

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