GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Brad Richardson and the Arizona Coyotes were tasked with trying to limit the productivity of the Colorado Avalanche’s high-scoring top line.
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They did just enough Saturday night, and Richardson provided the offense the Coyotes needed down the stretch, scoring twice in the final 3:39 in a 6-4 win over Colorado.
Richardson’s ninth goal of the season broke a 4-all tie, and his empty-net goal was his 10th and gave him the team lead in scoring. The empty-netter came with 12 seconds left.
“I just literally tried to shoot as quick as I could on that,” Richardson said of his first goal. “Went through two other guys. I don’t think the goalie saw it at all.”.
Derek Stepan, Christian Fischer and Richard Panik scored for Arizona, and Conor Garland added his first career NHL goal.
Alexander Kerfoot scored twice, and Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon added goals for the Avalanche, who have lost three of four. J.T. Compher and Matt Nieto had two assists for Colorado, which entered in fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes lost a three-goal lead in the third period as the Avalanche rallied with goals from Landeskog, Kerfoot and MacKinnon to make it 4-4. Landeskog and MacKinnon are part of Colorado’s 157-point No. 1 line that didn’t score a point until the third.
“We had MacKinnon’s line kind of hemmed in quite a bit in their end,” Richardson said.
“We defended well early,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “If there’s any guy you want to get the goal, for me, it’s ‘Richie’ because he shut down that line. That line is arguably the best line in hockey. He did a great job. That’s tough to do.”.
The Avalanche went with an extra attacker inside the final two minutes, but to no avail. The Coyotes put an end to a three-game losing streak.
MacKinnon tied it at four with his 22nd of the season at 11:51 of the third. With intensity high, Landeskog and Arizona’s Lawson Crouse dropped gloves and exchanged blows.
Both were given five minutes for fighting with 7:35 to play, Landeskog getting the better of the fight.
It didn’t give the Avalanche momentum, however, as the Coyotes finished strong despite having lost seven of the previous eight games.
“The third was not fancy, it wasn’t cute, it wasn’t east-west, it was all the things we wanted it to be,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Up-tempo, physical, involved, passionate. That’s the way we have to play. That’s the way we were playing at the beginning of the year.”.
Panik gave the Coyotes a first-period lead with his left-handed wrister at 8:58. He scored off a pass from Stepan for his seventh goal of the season.
Hill got his pad on Sven Andrighetto’s centering pass in deep, but the puck caromed right to Kerfoot, who stuffed in the rebound at 18:13 of the first to tie the game.
It was Kerfoot’s first goal since Nov. 14.
Clayton Keller fanned on a shot, but Stepan was nearby to shoot the puck past Philipp Grubauer with five seconds left in the period, and Arizona had momentum with a 2-1 lead to start the second period.
The Coyotes’ third goal was almost all due to the handiwork of Nick Schmaltz, who handled the puck through defenders before passing, then got on the receiving end of another pass from Alex Galchenyuk that led to Schmaltz’s assist to Fischer.
Fischer’s eighth goal at 2:30 of the second period gave the Coyotes a two-goal lead. Then Garland hustled to catch up to a long pass from Mario Kempe and beat Grubauer at 8:28.
Grubauer, who had 12 saves, was then removed from net and replaced by Pavel Francouz, who at age 28 made his NHL debut.
Francouz stopped 21 shots. Landeskog’s goal was his team-leading 24th of the season.
“We left it all out there in the third,” Landeskog said. “If you ask me, I think we deserved more, but that’s the way it goes.”.
NOTES: Coyotes D Kevin Connauton was scratched for the second straight game. … D Ilya Lyubushkin recorded his first career NHL point with an assist on Garland’s goal. … The Avalanche called up C Sheldon Dries, Francouz and F A.J. Greer from Colorado of the AHL. Francouz was Grubauer’s backup goaltender with Semyon Varlamov out due to illness. Dries was scratched. … C Colin Wilson, hurt Friday in a loss to Chicago, was placed on injured reserve.
Colorado: At Vegas on Dec. 27.
Arizona: At San Jose on Sunday.
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