Kuemper, Coyotes hold off Blue Jackets 4-2
By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes got another great game from the NHL’s top-ranked goalie.
Darcy Kuemper, who entered Tuesday night leading the league with a 1.97 goals-against average, had 33 saves in Arizona’s 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Kuemper improved to 11-6-2, and along with Antti Raanta is part of a reliable pair in net that has helped the Coyotes move within a point of first-place Edmonton in the Pacific Division.
“I think it’s a mindset we don’t really change,” Kuemper said. “We come to work, most of the time win or lose I feel like we play the same way. There hasn’t been very many games you could say we were off and not good.”
Arizona got goals from Clayton Keller, Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse to snap a two-game losing streak. Carl Soderberg had two assists and added an empty-netter.
The Blue Jackets are having a difficult time scoring, which is why they are languishing in seventh place in the Metropolitan. They have gotten scant production from their veterans and best players.
Dean Kukan — filling in on the top defensive line for the injured Zach Werenski — and Alexandre Texier scored, and Joonas Korpisalo had 24 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four of six.
“It’s been like that almost the whole season,” Kukan said. “We can’t score goals. That’s the main issue we have. All in all, we played a good game.”
Keller’s power-play goal opened the scoring with 49 seconds left in the first period. He snapped a shot from the right circle that was redirected by defender David Savard and went in just under the bar.
Kukan took advantage of a man-advantage early in the second period, dragging the puck into the right circle then shooting over Kuemper’s glove for his first NHL goal.
Later in the second, Soderberg muscled the puck away in the neutral zone and fed a charging Fischer, who rifled in a top-shelf shot to put the Coyotes up 2-1.
Crouse redirected Soderberg’s shot late in the second to give Arizona a two-goal lead. Texier made it a one-goal game again early in the third when he beat Kuemper after Cam Atkinson shoveled a pass out to him from behind the goal line.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going well, you’re not feeling good, sometimes you throw pucks to the net, it hits something and goes in,” Arizona coach Rich Tocchet said.
Soderberg added the empty-netter with 35 seconds left.
Kuemper withstood the 6-on-5 charge for the last 54 seconds left.
“The structure was good in front of me,” he said. “When it’s like that your reads are a lot easier, you’re seeing the puck. (I’m) just trying to chip in and do my part as well.”
NOTES: Columbus played its first game without Werenski, who injured his shoulder in Saturday’s game against the Islanders. Werenski, who will be out about a month, is the team’s third leading scorer. Scott Harrington, scratched the past seven games, replaced Werenski. … F Riley Nash played in his 100th career game with the Blue Jackets and is one game away from the 500th in his NHL career. … Arizona D Jakob Chychrun played in his 200th NHL game. … The Coyotes are 11-2-2 when Keller has a point.
Coyotes: At Philadelphia on Thursday.
Blue Jackets: Host New York Rangers on Thursday.
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