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Coyotes Game 15 Recap: Keller scores game-winner, Kuemper shuts out Blues to win series

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The Arizona Coyotes have won the unofficial series they played in the middle of the regular season.

St Louis Blues v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game Recap

There was never supposed to be a seven-game series between the Arizona Coyotes and the St. Louis Blues. The Coyotes were only supposed to play two games, and then Arizona was scheduled to move on. But COVID protocol required the postponement of games against the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. And instead of that, we got something never before seen, a seven-game series in the regular season. And it needed a seventh game.

With the Blues winning the last two, the Coyotes needed a big showing this afternoon. Today wasn’t their best performance, but it was good enough to win the day.

Neither team established a dominant game to start, but both had a few good looks. Arizona was having some difficulties clearing their zone, but all in all, they were defensively sound.

Brassard came closest to a goal with a puck that went up Jordan Binnington’s shoulder and rolled back. Brassard, like Lawson Crouse, has been snakebitten to start the season, and he has only one goal on the season.

Arizona would score the first and only goal of the game early in the second. Clayton Keller stole the puck in the neutral zone and brought it in over the St. Louis blue line. He couldn’t keep control, but Nick Schmaltz was able to recover. Schmaltz got the puck back to Keller, who wristed it over Binnington’s glove.

Both teams came close to scoring again. Vince Dunn may have come closest for St. Louis, ringing a shot off the pipe. The Blues also had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity after Clayton Keller was called for hooking, and Crouse put his hand over the puck 26 seconds later.

But Arizona weathered the Blues storm and even forced another last-minute penalty Jakob Chychrun drew a hooking call.

The Coyotes began the third on the power play, and despite some close looks, failed to convert again.

Arizona would have two more power plays in the third period and didn’t look great in either.

With Brayden Schenn in the box for slashing, the Coyotes had a decent enough power play. But it ended with a badly-timed line change and a good opportunity for the Blues. Thankfully, Kuemper was standing on his head.

And then, with 3:35 left in the game, Ryan O’Reilly was in the box for hi-sticking Alex Goligoski. St. Louis seemed to have all the momentum and kept the Coyotes from getting set up for most of the power play.

After the Blues killed it and Ryan O’Reilly on the ice, the Coyotes came strong. Darcy Kuemper made a few massive saves, and the team kept the Blues from getting too set up.

And with the final seconds gone, the Coyotes won Game 7 and the series! Sure they didn’t win anything, and there is no second round. But it was a statement win, the Coyotes are a team that you need to take seriously.

Lines

Stray Thoughts

  • Defensive pairings shifted again today, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jason Demers as the top pairing.
  • This was John Hayden's first game back having sat the past two while on COVID protocol.
  • It's fitting that the "Short Leash" Line scored the lone goal of the game. After this series, they are going to get a reputation.
  • Jakob Chychrun looked great and made a few good defensive moves. He took a puck to the hand/wrist area but was able to come back.
  • Towards the end of the game, it was announced that Torey Krug had sustained an upper-body injury and would not return.
  • In the first four games, the Blues had seventeen power play opportunities. In the past three, they had only six.
  • In the seven-game series Clayton Keller, Conor Garland, and Nick Schmaltz combine for 9 goals and 11 assists.
  • This was Darcy Kuemper's 19th career shut-out and 9th with the Coyotes.

Three Stars

  1. Darcy Kuemper - 24 saves on 24 shots

2. Clayton Keller - Game-winning goal

3. Jordan Binnington - 18 saves on 19 shots

Next Game

The Coyotes play the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, February 18th.