Kevin Connauton's 2 goals lift Arizona over Vegas 3-2

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Kevin Connauton's 2 goals lift Arizona over Vegas 3-2
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton (44) celebrates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kevin Connauton scored twice to lead the Arizona Coyotes over the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Wednesday night.

It marked Arizona’s first victory over the expansion Golden Knights in the teams’ fifth and final game this season.

Richard Panik also scored for the Coyotes, and Antti Raanta improved to 18-16-6 by making 27 saves.

The Coyotes began the season 0-10-1 and were 9-27-5 heading into 2018, but now they’re on a 15-7-2 roll, including an impressive 4-1 victory at Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay on Monday night. Arizona is 6-3-1 in its last 10 road games.

Erik Haula and Alex Tuch scored for the playoff-bound Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots.

Both Golden Knights’ goals came on a power play, as they continued their hot streak with a man advantage.

The Coyotes opened the scoring when Connauton found the loose puck after a deflection in front of the crease and backhanded it in a wide open net.

Vegas is just 7-6-3 in its last 16 games and holds a five-point lead over surging San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks were idle Wednesday and visit Vegas on Saturday night. The Golden Knights are 27-10-2 at home this season.

Vegas tied it after James Neal took advantage of a turnover and fed Haula for a one-timer.

With a little more than three minutes left in the first period, Clayton Keller stole the puck, maneuvered around the defense and served an attacking Panik, whose backhand beat Fleury.

Tuch deflected Jonathan Marchessault’s slap shot late in the second period to knot the game at 2, but moments later Connauton scored his second goal when his shot from the point made its way through the five-hole.

NOTES: Arizona is on a winning run of 16-1-1 when holding opponents to two goals or fewer. … Fleury remains one win away from moving into sole possession of 11th on the NHL’s career wins list. … Neal is two games shy from his 700th career game. … Marchessault is two games away from his 200th career contest.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Visits Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Vegas: Hosts St. Louis on Friday night.

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