Coyotes rally for shootout win over Blackhawks

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz, left, scores against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner in a shootout of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Chicago. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

CHICAGO — After falling behind early, the surprising Arizona Coyotes came back to pull out a win and grab a share of first place in the Pacific Division.

Conor Garland and Nick Schmaltz scored on the Coyotes’ first two attempts against Robin Lehner in the shootout, and Arizona rallied from two goals down to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Sunday night.

Only Patrick Kane connected against Darcy Kuemper in the tiebreaker as the Coyotes improved to 5-2 in shootouts this season and finished a 3-1 road trip.

Arizona trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period, before tying the score in the second. Coach Rick Tocchet liked what he saw as the game went on.

“We talked after the second,” Tocchet said. “If we win this period, it’s a hell of a trip instead of just an OK trip.”

With 40 points, Arizona is tied for first in the Pacific with Edmonton, which lost 3-2 to Buffalo in overtime on Sunday.

“Happy to get the win here,” said Schmaltz, a former Blackhawk. “A fun game to be part of.”

Garland got his team-leading 12th goal in regulation, and Carl Soderberg and Christian Fischer also scored. Kuemper finished with 26 saves through overtime.

The Coyotes improved to 39-35-8 last season, but fell short of the playoffs after finishing last in 2017-18. So far this season, Arizona is the NHL’s top defensive team with a 2.28 goals-against average.

The Coyotes weren’t sharp in the first period in this one, but Kuemper held the fort as his teammates turned up the pressure against Chicago.

“We had some good shifts in the first where we had a lot of zone time,” Kuemper said. “We came in and talked about it and went over some things we could use against them, and we were able to take over there.”

Jonathan Toews has a goal and two assists for his first three-point game this season. Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik also scored for injury-depleted Chicago, which played beyond regulation for the third straight game following an overtime win at Boston on Thursday and a shootout win at New Jersey the following night.

Lehner had 44 saves — including several sensational ones — but he lost for the first time in six career games (5-0-1) to Arizona.

A Vezina Trophy finalist with the Islanders last season, Lehner has been solid in net for Chicago so far, but is 0-3 in shootouts with the Blackhawks and 8-23 in the tiebreaker for his career. He last won a shootout on March 8, 2018, while he was with Buffalo.

“I’m just not very good at it,” Lehner said. “So I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to keep working at it and find another way.”

Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton was upset that his team didn’t manage its early lead and wrap up the game in regulation.

“The first period I thought we executed quite well and we were paid off for it, in a pretty good spot at home (leading) 3-1,” he said. “Just disappointed with what came after. Not a very good performance.”

Toews opened the scoring 53 seconds in. He connected on a backhand deflection of Calvin de Haan’s soft cross-ice feed, despite being tied up with defenceman Jason Demers.

DeBrincat’s power-play goal at 8:40 made it 2-0. The forward slipped behind Arizona’s defence on the left side, took Kane’s feed, then burst to the net and beat Kuemper high on the glove side.

Arizona cut to 2-1 at 11 minutes from a goalmouth scramble when Christian’s Dvorak’s feed from the left side of the net ticked in off Fischer’s skate. Kubalik’s midair deflection of Connor Murphy’s shot from the left point with 2:05 left in the first restored Chicago’s two-goal lead.

Garland and Soderberg scored power-play goals in the second to tie it at 3. Garland trimmed it to 3-2 at 6:32 on a wrist shot from the slot.

Chicago rookie defenceman Dennis Gilbert and Demers squared off in a free-swinging fight at 7:01. Gilbert was assessed an extra minor penalty for instigating, as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

Soderberg knotted it at 3 on the ensuing man advantage at 8:53 when his pass from right circle deflected off Chicago’ defenceman Slater Koekkoek’s stick and over Lehner’s shoulder.

Lehner robbed Clayton Keller with a flashy glove save at 9:19 of the scoreless third to keep it tied. Keller was alone at the low edge of the right circle during Arizona’s fifth straight power-play when he fired and Lehner reached to grab the shot.

NOTES: DeBrincat has goals in three straight games after going 12 games without one. … Chicago D Duncan Keith (groin) missed his fifth game. Coach Jeremy Colliton said the 36-year-old two-time Norris Trophy winner hasn’t resumed skating and remains out “week-to-week.” … Chicago D Olli Maatta missed his third game (illness) and F Andrew Shaw sat out his fourth (concussion protocol). … The Blackhawks recalled F Dylan Sikura from Rockford of the AHL and re-assigned F Anton Wedin. … Arizona scratched F Michael Chaput, F Barrett Hayton and D Aaron Ness.


Coyotes: Host Calgary on Tuesday night.

Blackhawks: At Vegas on Tuesday night to start a three-game trip.


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