Kakko scores twice, Rangers rally late to beat Coyotes 3-2
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Kaapo Kakko had two goals, including the game-winner with 2:18 left, and the New York Rangers scored twice on the power play in the final six minutes to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on the night of Dec. 15.
Mika Zibanejad added a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who had dropped two straight and three of four. Chris Kreider had three assists — matching a career high — after entering the game with four all season.
"Just one of those nights you have to battle," Zibanejad said. "It might not be the prettiest, but it’s two points, and that’s the important thing. The power play came up big."
Kakko tapped the tiebreaker into an open side off a pass from Kreider after Zibanejad scored with help from Kreider’s screen at 14:14 of the third period to tie it 2-all. Kakko’s winner came after the Coyotes were penalized for having too many men on the ice.
"Great pass by Krides and a big goal for us," Kakko said. "Sometimes it’s easy. Just go to the net and they can find me."
Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist, and Loui Eriksson scored short-handed for the struggling Coyotes, who have lost six in a row.
Coming off a 4-2 loss Tuesday night in Colorado, the Rangers played most of the game without leading scorer Artemi Panarin, who logged only seven minutes and was not on the ice in the third period. Kakko was on the top power-play unit for the game-winning goal because Panarin was out.
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said Panarin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
"You have to dig down and find a way," Gallant said. "He’s obviously one of our best players if not our best player.
"It was a tough night. Our guys looked tired on the bench. They were dragging their feet a little bit. Fortunately, our power play did a great job later in the hockey game. We found some extra energy."
Keith Kinkaid made 29 saves in his first start of the season for the Rangers.
"He was strong," Gallant said. "He looked solid. For a guy who hadn’t played in two or three weeks (since being recalled from the minors), I was happy with his performance."
Scott Wedgewood stopped 27 shots for the Coyotes in a game that ended with a scrum in front of the New York net.
Arizona had the best scoring chances in the first period before Eriksson’s short-handed goal late made it 1-0. He skated in after a pass from Keller and his wrister from the left side got through Kinkaid’s pads and trickled over the goal line at 17:46.
Eriksson was inches short of a similar goal five minutes into the period, when his shot from the right circle got through Kinkaid but was swept away at the goal line by the Rangers. A replay review confirmed the puck did not cross the line.
Kinkaid turned away Barrett Hayton on a breakaway with five minutes left in the period, and the teams traded penalties a minute apart before Eriksson scored.
Kakko ended a 10-game goal drought and tied it at 1 midway through the second when he tipped a rebound into an open side after Wedgewood stopped Zibanejad’s shot from the right circle but could not control it.
Keller gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead at 8:47 of the third period.
"It’s tough right now," coach André Tourigny said. "Tomorrow the sun will come up, but for tonight we’re not in the best place mentally.
"The Rangers are a good team. We had more scoring chances. More quality scoring chances. More shots from the slot. We did a lot of good things. We fought. It’s frustrating, because 5-on-5 we were really good."
Eriksson has 251 career goals and 599 points. He is two assists short of becoming the eighth NHL player from Sweden with 1,000 games, 250 goals, 350 assists and 600 points. … The Coyotes announced a partnership with Univision Arizona to broadcast 14 regular-season home games on Spanish language radio station KHOV-FM beginning with the Dec. 23 game against Tampa Bay. … Coyotes D Jakob Chychrun (lower body) was placed on injured reserve after missing his second straight game. D Janis Moser was recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League. Moser was the fifth Arizona player to make his NHL debut this season. G Karel Vejmelka, D Dysin Mayo, D Cam Dineen and F Ben McCartney are the others. … Coyotes F Christian Fischer sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return.
Rangers: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.
Coyotes: Play at Anaheim on Friday.
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