Vejmelka sharp in Coyotes’ 2-1 shootout win over Kings
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Karel Vejmelka had a rough night his previous start, allowing five goals, including four in the third period.
Arizona’s goalie was good all game against the Los Angeles Kings, finishing with a flourish to help the Coyotes end a three-game losing streak.
Vejmelka had 26 saves and stopped all three shots in a shootout in the Coyotes’ 2-1 victory over the Kings on Friday night.
“When we scored a goal, I just thought about a win,” Vejmelka said. “I just want to make a lot of saves so we could win and we did it.”
Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz scored with a two-man advantage in the first period. Alex Iafallo evened it on the man advantage in the second, leaving the Coyotes tied heading into the third period for the fifth straight game.
Nick Bjugstad scored on Arizona’s second shot in the shootout after Vejmelka stopped Gabriel Vilardi. Arizona’s Clayton Keller had a chance to win it, but sent his shot over the goal.
Vejmelka, who allowed five goals in a loss to Vegas on Wednesday night, finished it off by stopping Adrian Kempe to end the Kings’ four-game winning streak.
“I like our composure, our resilience,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We were stingy on defense, were able to score on the 5-of-3, almost in overtime. There’s a lot of positive.”
The Kings were sharp after beating Calgary in overtime the night before and so was Jonathan Quick, who had 23 saves after allowing at least four goals in four of his previous five starts.
Los Angeles got a good break when Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere hit the post in overtime and was able to kill off a penalty in overtime. The Kings couldn’t finish off in the shootout, thanks to two saves by Vejmelka and Trevor Moore missing the net on his attempt.
“I thought it was gutsy game by our team,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Gas tanks were running low and they checked very well.”
The Coyotes had trouble on special teams in their 5-2 loss to the Golden Knights, giving up two power-play goals and another shorthanded.
Arizona had the early special-teams advantage against the Kings, scoring on a 5-on-3 midway through the first period. Schmaltz got it, one-timing a nifty cross-ice pass from Clayton Keller past Quick.
The Kings then tied it up on a power play in the second period when Iafalo hit a one-timer past Arizona defenseman Patrik Nemeth and beat Vejmelka to the glove side.
The Coyotes failed to get a shot on goal in a disjointed power play early in the third period and couldn’t beat Quick on a 4-on-3 in overtime.
“A good point that we needed,” Iafallo said. “Obviously, we wanted two points and a win, but it’s positive to get a point going into the break.”
STECHER TO FORWARD
The Coyotes were down a forward when rookie Matias Maccelli went to the locker room in the first period and did not return with a lower-body injury.
Arizona opted to move up Troy Stecher from his defenseman spot and the seventh-year player handled it well.
“Stech has speed and energy, so we thought he could chip in,” Tourigny said. “He’s a veteran and when I asked him, he jumped at that role and didn’t want to dip his toe in. He wanted to make a difference and he did a really good job.”
The loss of Maccelli will be harder to take. He entered Friday’s game leading all NHL rookies with 19 assists and 22 points.
Tourigny said Maccelli is week-to-week.
NOTES: Kyle Rehman was the lone referee for the game after Tom Chmielewski encountered travel issues. ... Kings F Brendan Lemieux played for the first time since Nov. 12 after being out with a lower-body injury. He wasted no time agitating the Coyotes, mixing it up with Lawson Crouse to take a four-minute roughing penalty in the first period. ... Los Angeles F Arthur Kaliyev missed his second straight game after being injured blocking a shot against Anaheim on Tuesday.
Kings: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
Coyotes: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.
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