The Arizona Coyotes (33-29-5) are doing everything they can to reach the playoffs. Last night they managed to defeat the leaders of the Western Conference, Calgary Flames (41-20-7) with 2-0 and not only improve their prospects of reaching the postseason but to complicate the entire playoff picture of the conference.
After this match, the Coyotes are three points away from Minnesota Wild, who are occupying the last wild card place. But also with a game fewer.
But the playoff chase is not the only reason why Arizona desperately wanted a win against the Flames. In the previous three direct clashes with this rival, the Canadians destroyed the Coyotes in each and every, scoring 18 goals in total.
The first one played at Gila River Arena ended 1-6. The next two, 7-1, and 5-2. Pretty painful, isn’t that right?
That is what also stated one of the heroes of this match, Jakob Chychrun.
“They’ve kind of had our number. We kind of owed them one.”
Chychrun scored a goal and had an assist, posting one of his best games of the season, in the best possible moment.
The opener came at 10:16 since the start of the game, with Clayton Keller hitting the back of Flames net. It was a quick counter in which he and Christian Dvorak managed to outsmart Mike Smith, the goalie of the guests.
Chychrun solved the game early on in the third period. After a successfully killed power play, with 2:39 into the sequence, the 20-year old made it 2-0. Dvorak was once again involved, because he took the shoot first, which Smith denied, but failed to prevent Chychrun from delivering.
However, Coyotes’ defenceman didn’t want to talk about him, but instead praised his teammate, goalie Darcy Kuemper, saying that his recent performances are giving a huge boost of morale to the whole team, and that they can play much relaxed knowing that they have a guy who will cover them if they make a mistake.
“He’s been unbelievable. He makes it look so easy, he’s always so calm,” Chychrun said. “He’s a calming presence back there and he’s going to make the saves he should make. That’s nice to rely on.”
Kuemper had 30 saves last night. Over the recent nine starts he recorded, this guy is 8-1-0, with two shutouts. Last night he was giving a hard time to Calgary’s offense, which struggles a lot over the recent few weeks.
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 8, 2019
Flames scored more than two goals only once in the latest 8 matches. The leaders of the West were used to one of the best attacks in the NHL, but now they can’t bet near that level.
But what is even worse is that this was their fourth straight defeat.
“The whole team is kind of struggling. It’s a lot easier when it’s just a couple of guys,” said Mikael Backlund, Flames center.
With defeating the Montreal Canadians 5-2 this morning, the San Jose Sharks are now just one point away from Calgary. And they have a possibility to jump over them pretty soon, because of a game in hand.
What is a good thing is that Flames play 8 of the next 10 games at their home, Scotiabank Saddledome. They can use that convenience and improve the record, patiently waiting for the Sharks to slip somewhere along the way.
As for the Coyotes, they have 71 points, three fewer than Minnesota Wild. They too are a game short. Over the last three weeks, this team played 13 games and won 10 of them, dramatically increasing the chances of entering the playoffs. But they did play most recent six at home. There is one more, this Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, before the start of the rough stretch, during which, Rick Tocchet’s guys have six road contests in the next two weeks.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.