At this point, the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are playing a six-game series. It wasn’t originally scheduled this way, but that is what it has begun. And if we accept that premises, the Coyotes had an outstanding third game of the series.
For the third straight game, the Coyotes came out strong and scored first. This time it was the “Short Leash” line.
Clayton Keller had the puck from below the net and passed it up to a waiting Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun has been shooting the puck a lot, but this time he was down low right in front of Ville Husso, and he was able to put it home.
But as we’ve seen in the past, the St. Louis Blues responded.
Less than two minutes later, the Blues were deep in the Coyotes zone. The Blues had all the momentum at this point and cycled the puck up high and then back down low behind the net. Darcy Kuemper came out and had his left leg out, and for a while, he looked to be keeping it out. But Robert Thomas readjusted a little and got it past Kuemper.
The Blues pushed back, and the rest of the period was a stalemate. The first finished with both teams tied 1-1.
Soon after the intermission, it was announced that neither Robert Thomas nor Drake Caggiula would return for the rest of the game.
Not much happened to start the second. The first period finished with the Blues having 11 shots on goal compared to the Coyotes’ 9. Midway through the second period, the Blues had 12 shots on goal versus the Coyotes’ 10.
Arizona did still find a way to convert. The “Short Leash” line had drawn another penalty, Torey Krug hooked Nick Schmaltz, and the Coyotes were on the power play.
Phil Kessel had the puck in the neutral zone who passed it to a streaking Clayton Keller. The Blues barely challenged Keller as he went from the blue-line to just in front of Husso and put the puck five-hole.
Keller’s contract is a lightning rod for criticism, both fair and not fair. He looked great in the Coyotes’ second game against the Blues, and he was having a great night this afternoon.
That second goal did not make the Blues happy, and not long after, Brayden Schenn and Johan Larsson dropped the gloves.
The tilt probably gave the Blues more momentum than the Coyotes. Again the Coyotes weathered the St. Louis storm and pushed back when they could to keep things interesting.
After the previous game, everyone was expecting a big third period. And things definitely picked up. Both teams had good looks and looked like the Blues were going to keep things interesting.
The Blues had taken the first penalty of the period but were able to kill it no problem. But then, just over nine minutes into the period, Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for hooking Ryan O’Reilly.
In this series, the Blues have had a lot of power play opportunities but have not been able to convert. In three games, St. Louis has had 13 power plays and hasn’t found the back of the net once.
And it looked like the Coyotes were tempting fate again with a 2-1 lead. But eleven seconds later, Johan Larsson drew a tripping call, and it was 4-on-4 hockey, and soon it was back to 5-on-5.
In the last game, the Blues pulled their goaltender early. This afternoon they were trailing by less, and they weren’t about to try that again. But they continued to push the rest of the period, and the Coyotes knew they couldn’t let up the gas.
Things fell apart for St. Louis when Jaden Schwartz was called for interference on Larsson with 1:56 left in the game. The two had scrapped earlier, and it looks like Larsson had the last laugh.
The Blues stilled pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. And with less than a minute left, the Coyotes were in the Blues zone with an empty net. Garland broke up a cross-ice pass and recovered the puck. As he moved towards the empty net, he drew a tripping penalty, recovered, retrieved the puck, and passed it to a waiting Jakob Chychrun.
And with that, the game ended just like it started, with a Jakob Chychrun goal.
- Blues are wearing yet another jersey today. In the past three games, they have worn three different third jerseys. I prefer the darker blue of their regular jersey, but this one was much better than the Reverse Retro.
- The "Short Leash" line drew penalties, with Schmaltz drawing two of them. The Blues did not seem to have an answer for them in the offensive zone.
- Oskar Sundqvist of the Blues blocked two Chychrun shots, and it looked extremely painful.
oskar sundqvist is a maniac— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) February 6, 2021
two HUGE shot blocks pic.twitter.com/ZiIbNwRjt0
- Kessel has been much better defensively this season. He was solid in the defensive zone, forced turnovers, and all in all has been a much better player this season. A lot of that has to do with him being healthy, but he also just seems more motivated.
- Darcy Kuemper made some big saves throughout the game, but especially on the penalty kill. Goaltending is probably the biggest reason the Coyotes have not allowed St. Louis to score on the power play.
- Conor Garland is just amazing with the puck on his stick. He is so good at protecting the puck as he skates in and keeping it away from the player trying to defend against him.
- This afternoon was definitely Johan Larsson’s best game of the season. He had a few good looks and was solid defensively, and in addition to the fight, he drew three penalties in the third.
- After tonight, Jakob Chychrun has scored three of the four goals scored by Coyotes’ defensemen.
- Clayton Keller - Game-winning goal and an assist
- Jakob Chychrun - Two goals
- Darcy Kuemper - 24 saves on 25 shots
The Coyotes are staying in St. Louis and the next game is Monday at 6:00 pm.