Arizona Coyotes still in playoff hunt with shutout win over Golden Knights

Apr 30, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) skates with the puck against Vegas Golden Knights right winger Tomas Jurco (13) in the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

John Hayden, Michael Bunting and Christian Fischer provided the goals and Adin Hill recorded the shutout as the host Arizona Coyotes kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday in Glendale, Ariz.

Hill made 25 saves for his second shutout of the season — and third of his career — and the Coyotes (22-24-5, 49 points) pulled themselves three points back of the St. Louis Blues in the chase for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. The Coyotes will need help even if they run the table. They have only five games remaining in the season, while the Blues have eight.

Goaltender Robin Lehner stopped 29 shots for the Golden Knights (35-12-2, 72 points), who saw their franchise record 10-game winning streak snapped but remain atop the division and holding a four-point edge on the second-place Colorado Avalanche. It’s only Lehner’s second regulation-time loss since he joined the Golden Knights.

The Coyotes play host to the Golden Knights on Saturday for the eighth and final meeting of the season. Vegas has won five of the seven clashes between the clubs this year.

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Going into the game on a two-game slide and with just two wins in 11 games, the Coyotes received the start they were looking for when Hayden notched his second goal of the season just before the midway point of the first period. Arizona’s forecheck created all kinds of pressure and Hayden buried a long rebound chance at the 9:13 mark of the first period.

Hayden was held without a goal in his first 22 games of the season, but has scored twice in the last four contests and both have been game-winning goals.

Bunting netted his ninth goal in 16 games this season 90 seconds into the third period to double the lead. Lehner stopped Nick Schmaltz’s long shot, but Bunting was on the spot to bury the rebound for the much-needed insurance marker.

Fischer’s empty-net goal with 2:37 remaining on the clock rounded out the scoring.

–Field Level Media