By JACK THOMPSON | Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Once Johan Larsson got his first goal of the season, the second and third came in short order.
Larsson had his first career hat trick, and the Arizona Coyotes sent the Chicago Blackhawks to their sixth straight loss, 6-4 Thursday night.
“It was a matter of time,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said of Larsson’s outburst. “I’m not surprised when they came in a bunch.”
Larsson, who missed 10 games earlier in the season because of injury and COVID-19 protocols, scored the game’s first goal when he deflected Janis Moser’s shot from the blue line past Chicago goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I got the first one out of the way,” Larsson said. “I feel better, coming back and just getting into the rhythm and (gaining) confidence.”
His second goal came on the power play and gave Arizona a 5-2 lead early in the third period. After the Blackhawks cut the deficit to one goal with 6 1/2 minutes to play, Karel Vejmelka and the Coyotes held Chicago off the scoreboard and Larsson scored into an empty net with 29 seconds remaining. It was the first hat trick of the season for Arizona, which posted just its seventh win.
“He’s a guy who’s easy to trust because he cares a lot; he does the things right every day,” Tourigny said. “He has a lot of character.”
Dysin Mayo, Travis Boyd and Clayton Keller also scored for Arizona. Boyd, Shayne Gostisbehere and Phil Kessel each had two assists for the Coyotes. Vejmelka made 32 saves to earn his first home victory of the season. He has won twice on the road.
Larsson’s second goal came 51 seconds after Boyd scored 3:10 into the third period. Chicago challenged the goal, claiming interference on former Blackhawks player Andrew Ladd against Fleury, but the ruling stood as replays showed Ladd was pushed into Fleury by Chicago’s Riley Stillman.
“Our power play gave us some momentum in the second period,” Tourigny said. “I think when your power play generates momentum, not just goals, that means that your best players are doing good things. They play with confidence and that translates to 5-on-5.”
Kirby Dach, MacKenzie Entwhistle, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat scored the Chicago goals. DeBrincat’s was his 21st of the season and third in two games.
After the game, the Blackhawks had a lengthy meeting in the locker room.
“We’re playing good hockey, and then we just take a few shifts off,” Toews said. “We’ve got to find ways to commit to each other.”
Fleury made 21 saves for Chicago. The Blackhawks last won Dec. 15, in overtime against Washington.
OUT OF THE LINEUP
The Blackhawks played without forwards Brandon Hagel and Sam Lafferty and defenseman Erik Gustafsson, all in COVID-19 protocols. Earlier Thursday, Chicago recalled forward Mike Hardman and defenseman Ian Mitchell from Rockford of the AHL. Both were scratches on Thursday.
Coyotes defenseman Jacob Chychrun (upper body) missed his sixth straight game.
WE MEET AGAIN
Kessel had two scoring chances on a shift in the first period against his former Pittsburgh teammate. Fleury stopped Kessel from in close and then again from the slot.
Blackhawks: Brett Connolly sat out the final game of his four-game suspension for a hit against Dallas’ Tanner Kero.
Coyotes: Gostisbehere has scored at least one point in each of his last four games. ... Janis Moser’s assist was the first of his career. He has two goals in five NHL games.
Blackhawks: At Las Vegas on Saturday.
Coyotes: Host Nashville on Saturday.
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