Keller scores hat trick, Coyotes defeat Golden Knights

TEMPLE, Ariz. — Clayton Keller had a hat trick for the Arizona Coyotes in a 4-1 win against the Vegas Golden Knights at Mullett Arena on Sunday.

The hat trick was Keller’s second in the NHL. His first came in a 5-4 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 11.

“It’s nice to see some go in,” said Keller, who had two points (one goal, one assist) in his previous 10 games. “It’s a long season and you’re going to go through tough times, and maybe you don’t get the bounces you deserve, but something I’ve learned is not getting frustrated and sticking with it.”

Dylan Guenther also scored, Nick Schmaltz had two assists, and Karel Vejmelka made 35 saves for the Coyotes (15-27-5), who were shut out in their previous two games and won for just the second time in their past 13 (2-11-0).

Phil Kessel scored for the Golden Knights (29-17-2), who have lost four of five. Logan Thompson made 19 saves after playing in a 6-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

“We haven’t been at our best, and we need to find some consistency in our game and capitalize on our opportunities and play well defensively,” Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “We’ve got some learning to do. We’re in a bit of a funk right now.”

Video: [email protected]: Guenther snaps in one-timer from circle

Guenther gave Arizona a 1-0 lead at 1:59 of the first period, scoring with a one-timer glove side from the left circle off a backhand pass from Nick Bjugstad from below the goal line.

The goal was the first in 139:06 for the Coyotes, who were determined to get off to a good start after falling behind 2-0 in the opening five minutes of a 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

“What happened in Dallas, there was a little bit of nonchalance on our side, and I think that was a lesson learned,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “The way we started the game today was what we expected, to be honest. That’s the way you should start.”

Video: [email protected]: Keller snaps one in from the hash marks

Keller pushed it to 2-0 at 1:39 of the second period, curling up and scoring from the edge of the right circle.

“They just scored on their chances and we didn’t,” Vegas forward Byron Froese said. “I thought we generated (offense), but their goalie made some good saves. We were a little late to get those rebounds, but we had a lot of shots and a lot of creative chances.”

Kessel cut it to 2-1 on a power play at 9:03 when his shot from the left circle deflected in off a Coyotes defenseman Troy Stecher‘s stick.

Keller responded to make it 3-1 at 8:50 of the third. During an extended shift in the offensive zone, Juuso Valimaki passed the puck down low to Schmaltz, who fed it to a wide-open Keller at the left hash marks.

“All three goals we gave up were with veteran center icemen and [poor] slot coverage,” Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We just need to be there to put those fires out. This is game [48] and we should know better. Maybe a little bit of fatigue, but if you’re not going to finish (on offense), you’ve got to keep it out of your net. … Logan kind of hung them out to dry with that slot coverage.”

Video: [email protected]: Keller buries a shot for his second goal

Keller completed the hat trick by shooting into an empty net at 15:52 for the 4-1 final.

“I was really happy for the two points tonight,” Vejmelka said. “We played really, really well defensively. I saw a lot of pucks, but we blocked a lot of shots (18), too. We just need to keep this going.”

NOTES: Thompson played both games of a back to back for the third time in his career. He is 1-3-2 in those games. … Keller is the first Coyotes player with two hat tricks in a season since Mikkel Boedker in 2015-16. … Kessel, who played the previous three seasons for Arizona, had scored one goal in his previous 15 games.


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