Coyotes beat Sharks 6-3 Tuesday night, Kessel, Hall, score two goals each

Taylor Hall scored a goal and had three assists is the Coyotes qualifying series win over Nashville. photography

Taylor Hall scored a goal and had three assists is the Coyotes qualifying series win over Nashville.

Ole Olafson, Reporter

The Arizona Coyotes came home to Gila River Arena on Sunday night following a three game road trip which started out promising.

Arizona hit the road after a big win on Jan. 4 over Philadelphia.  The victory came with mixed emotions for many Coyotes fans.  On one hand, the team scored six goals and won the game decisively.  On the other hand, backup goalie Antti Raanta was injured, giving way to third-stringer Adin Hill.

The road trip started in south Florida and Hill stepped up in his first start of the season with a win over a high-powered Panthers offense.

The rest of the trip didn’t go so well.

Tampa Bay shut out the Coyotes and Hill let in four goals.

Raanta returned to the net for the last road game against Carolina but only lasted two periods.  He, once again, gave way to Hill after exiting the game with the same or similar, “lower body” injury that took him out of the Philadelphia game.  The rest of the team failed to score again, losing 0-3.

Many Coyotes fans were in a festive mood Sunday afternoon.  The team returned to action on home-ice and defenseman Niklas Hjalmersson returned to the lineup after missing most of the season.  Hill made his third start of the season and got the team all the way to the 8th round of a shootout before Pittsburgh’s Teddy Blueger spoiled the party.

Tuesday night, Hill was back between the pipes as the Coyotes hosted the Sharks.

Arizona drew first blood when Derek Stepan stole the puck and passed it to veteran winger Phil Kessel who flicked it in the net past San Jose goalie Aaron Dell.

Kessel struck again on the power play, early in the 2nd period, after Stefan Noesen got caught tripping Jordan Oesterle.  It was Kessel’s 2nd goal of the night and 11th of the season.

Kevin Labanc answered back for the Sharks 1:41 later, assisted by Evander Kane.

Not long after that, Timo Meier slipped a backhand goal past Hill and the game was tied.

Taylor Hall managed to get the lead back for Arizona 2:46 before the end of the period when he redirected a shot by Oesterle off the left post and in.

Just before the middle of the last period, Lawson Crouse stretched the Coyote’s lead to 4-2 when he scored his 11th goal of the season with help from Stepan and Kessel.

Evander Kane made things uncomfortable for Coyotes fans with 2:09 left in the game when he trimmed Arizona’s lead to one.

Prior to the final siren of their last home game before the All-Star break and the team’s mandatory week off, Garland and Hall both padded their stats with empty-net goals after San Jose pulled Dell for an extra attacker.

The Coyotes have two games remaining before the break.  On Thursday, they’ll face Vancouver before finishing up the first half of the season against Edmonton on Saturday afternoon.