GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Vinnie Hinostroza has been searching for consistency since joining the Arizona Coyotes in a trade last offseason. He’s found it at just the right time.
The 24-year-old forward scored his first career hat trick and sent the surging Coyotes to a 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
Hinostroza got his third goal with 51 seconds left, and hats came flying out of the crowd onto the ice. He has 12 points over his last 12 games.
“That’s something you don’t think about happening, but when it does, it’s something special,” Hinostroza said. “It’s nice that it comes in a win and at a special time when we’re trying to hold a playoff spot here.”
Jason Demers added a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who have won 10 of 12. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mario Kempe also scored, and Alex Goligoski and Christian Fischer each had two assists.
Arizona’s victory coupled with Minnesota’s loss to Dallas moved the Coyotes three points ahead of the slumping Wild for the second Western Conference wild card. Both teams have 11 games remaining.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 37 shots for his 13th win since Feb. 9, and was credited with an assist on Hinostroza’s first goal.
“Our momentum is kind of snowballing here,” Kuemper said. “Even sometimes when we’re not at our best we kind of have that belief that we’re going to win and find a way. It’s a lot of fun coming to the rink right now.”
Jakob Silfverberg scored for Anaheim, which had won four of six.
The Coyotes scored two power-play goals — both by Hinostroza — in a game for the fourth time this season, and improved to 26-1-1 when leading after two periods.
“We had numerous times we could have cleared the puck and we didn’t,” Ducks assistant coach Marty Wilford said. “Usually that’s when it comes back to hurt you.”
Ekman-Larsson’s goal was his 11th, and the Coyotes’ 15th short-handed this season. He took a pass from Brad Richardson and flipped a shot over the glove of Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller at 17:25 of the first period.
Miller made 18 saves.
Demers scored with 50 seconds left in the period for a 2-0 lead when his wrist shot beat Miller stick side for Demers’ first goal since Nov. 15. After that night, he missed the next 47 games with a knee injury.
The Ducks made it 2-1 just 58 seconds into the second on Devin Shore’s shot that deflected off the stick of Silfverberg and past Kuemper.
Demers perhaps inadvertently helped Hinostroza score his 13th goal of the season at 4:15 of the second. He collided with Hinostroza as he worked the puck up the ice, and after Hinostroza emerged from being sandwiched between Demers and a Ducks player, his shot went between Miller’s legs for a 3-1 Coyotes lead.
“We’ve been the underdogs all year. I think we just have to embrace that role,” Demers said. “No one still expects us to be here and no one still expects us to get in (to the playoffs). That’s the kind of mentality we have to have.”
Hinostroza made it 4-1 when a shot by Demers caromed out to him for a successful slap shot at 17:49 of the second. Kempe’s goal came as the puck crossed the goal line just before the final buzzer.
NOTES: Arizona Diamondbacks OF David Peralta dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. ... The 15 short-handed goals tie a franchise record that dates back to when the Coyotes were the original Winnipeg Jets in 1988-89. ... F Richard Panik played in his 400th NHL game. ... Silfverberg has a goal in three consecutive games and a point in seven straight. ... The Ducks served 12 minutes in penalties.
Ducks: At the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
Coyotes: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.