Kessel Scores Twice, Leads Coyotes past Flyers 3-1

PHILADELPHIA — Phil Kessel scored two goals to lead the Arizona Coyotes to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves and Conor Garland also scored for the Coyotes, who improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

Matt Niskanen scored for Philadelphia.

The Flyers had won five in a row and had points in seven straight games (6-0-1). The loss was the second in regulation at home this season for Philadelphia, which dropped to 9-2-4.

Kuemper, who entered leading the league averaging at 1.97 goals-against, was on the verge of his third shutout before Niskanen’s score on a long wrist shot that deflected off Garland’s knee and pulled Philadelphia within 2-1 with 4:43 left on the Flyers’ 28th shot.

Darcy Kuemper Arizona Coyotes
Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kuemper was strong throughout. His best save came with 3:31 left in the second when he dove to his left and stopped Sean Couturier’s attempt from close range. Kuemper also made a good stop on Couturier’s try from the slot with 11:11 remaining.

Garland scored his 11th on a follow from left of the crease with 7:03 left to make it 2-0. Jacob Chychrun’s slap shot was saved by Brian Elliott and went off the stick of Christian Dvorak to Garland. Dvorak extended his points streak to a career-best five games with the secondary assists.

Kessel scored on the power play 2:25 into the game, putting Arizona up 1-0. Clayton Keller passed to Kessel in front and the veteran forward snuck the puck through Elliott’s legs.

Kessel added an empty-netter with 1:02 remaining.

It was the sixth goal and 17th point in 30 games for the 32-year-old Kessel, who was acquired in an off-season trade with Pittsburgh. He entered the season averaging nearly a point per contest with 823 points in 996 games and a goal in about one in every three games, with 357.

Phil Kessel Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

But his numbers have been down this season, something coach Rick Tocchet attributed partly to a groin injury that hampered Kessel earlier this season. Tocchet also has been happy with the presence of Kessel, who is a three-time All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup champion.


The teams will wrap up their two-game season series Jan. 4 in Arizona. … Dvorak has two goals and four assists over his streak. … Arizona, which entered third in the NHL in goals-against as a team, surrendered just its 68th goal of the season. … Philadelphia’s Michael Raffl missed the first contest of what is expected to be a month’s absence after breaking his right pinky finger in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over Toronto.


Coyotes: At Pittsburgh on Friday.

Flyers: Host Ottawa on Saturday.


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Aaron Bracy, The Associated Press