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Coyotes Game 67 Recap: Coyotes top the Sharks 5-2 but lose Keller to leg injury

The Arizona Coyotes may have beaten the San Jose Sharks, but they will be without Clayton Keller for the rest of the season.

San Jose Sharks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game Recap

The Arizona Coyotes may have ended their recent losing streak, but not without a high cost. Arizona may have beaten the San Jose Sharks last night 5-2, but in the process, they lost their best player, Clayton Keller, for the foreseeable future.

Both teams started the game feeling each other out, and neither gaining control. However, things began to change midway through the opening frame when Brent Burns was sent to the box for slashing, and the Coyotes had their first power play of the game.

Arizona’s power play looked fine. There was some decent puck movement even if they didn’t test James Reimer. But, unfortunately, with 13 seconds left, Alex Galchenyuk was called for closing his hand on the puck, erasing the final seconds of the Coyotes’ power play and giving the Sharks their first man advantage.

Midway through the Sharks’ man advantage, defenseman Ryan Merkley fired the puck through traffic. His shot hit a couple of bodies in front, and Scott Reedy was credited with the goal, making it 1-0 San Jose.

Fortunately, the Coyotes didn’t take long to respond. Late in the period, the Coyotes brought the puck in, and Nick Ritchie went to the front of the net. Nick Schmaltz had the puck and pulled the defending players towards him, leaving Ritchie wide-open to tap in a Schmaltz pass to tie the game 1-1.

The first period ended with the Coyotes in a good position, but they knew they needed to do more. The game was tied, but the Desert Dogs were being outshot 11-4, and the Coyotes had a few areas they still needed to clean up.

Arizona came to play for the second period. They were doing a decent job setting the pace and keeping the Sharks from getting set up.

The Coyotes were doing a good job pressuring the puck and making San Jose play in their own zone. Then, midway through the second, they were rewarded when Merkley fell down behind his own net and lost the puck. Phil Kessel stole the puck and sent it up front to a waiting Jan Jeník, who fired it past Reimer to give the Coyotes their first lead of the game.

The goal was a turning point for the game, but the Sharks weren’t dead yet. Five and a half minutes after Jeník gave the Coyotes the lead, San Jose recovered the puck and brought it into the Coyotes’ zone. Tomáš Hertl passed it back to Brent Burns at the point, who fired a shot through traffic past Karel Vejmelka to tie the game 2-2.

Arizona played much better in the second and was in a good position moving into the final frame, despite giving up the tying goal. All the Coyotes needed to do was win the third period, and they would win the game.

San Jose came out of the locker room looking to play, and they had the better push to start the third period. But the Coyotes were able to strike first, with Jan Jeník getting his second goal of the night after he recovered a partially blocked Phil Kessel shot in front of the net and fired it past Reimer to make it 3-2 Coyotes.

The Coyotes had regained the lead, and now they just needed to make sure they didn’t give the Sharks any unnecessary opportunities. But this is the Coyotes we are talking about, so midway through the third, Jeník took the Coyotes’ second penalty of the game when he was sent to the box for hooking.

Arizona kept the Sharks off the scoreboard for the final time, and things were looking much better. Arizona had the lead, and they weren’t giving up too many good chances, it seemed like they had this one in the bag.

Unfortunately, that’s when things went horribly wrong. As Clayton Keller brought the puck into the Shark’s zone, he got hooked by Sharks’ defenseman Nicolas Meloche. Keller went awkwardly to the boards and did not get up for what felt like an eternity.

Keller was placed on a stretcher and taken off the ice with what appeared to be a broken leg. Keller has been the Coyotes’ best player all season, leading the team in points and goals and serving an essential role as a penalty killer. Hopefully, we will know more soon, but his season looks over if nothing else.

As callous as it sounds, the Coyotes still had a game to finish, and there was no way they were going to lose this one. With less than three minutes left in regulation, Barrett Hayton stole the puck in the Shark’s zone and got it to Travis Boyd. Boyd passed the puck back to Hayton, who fired it past Reimer to give the Coyotes a two-goal lead with less than three minutes remaining.

The Sharks tried to come back and eventually pulled Reimer for the extra attacker. Arizona put the final nail in the coffin with 46 seconds left in regulation, though, when Nick Schmaltz fired the puck from the defensive zone into the empty net to seal the victory and give Schmaltz his 20th goal of the season.

The Coyotes won the game, but losing Keller will have a major impact on their season. He touched so many areas of the game and was the Yotes’ best player night after night. Hopefully, he will make a full recovery during the offseason, but until then, the Coyotes will need everyone to step up to help fill the void.

Lines

Three Stars

  1. Jan Jeník - 2 goals
  2. Phil Kessel - 2 assists
  3. Karel Vejmelka - 39 saves on 41 shots

Next Game

The Coyotes will be back in action this Friday when they host the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 pm Arizona time.