Ekman-Larsson, Kuemper lead Coyotes past Canucks, 1-0
Just 2 1/2 weeks after being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings – and one night after being worked over in a 5-2 loss at Colorado – the goalkeeper earned his 11th career shutout with a 1-0 victory over Vancouver on Sunday night, his and Arizona’s second win over the Canucks in four days.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored on a power play for the only goal Kuemper needed. Ekman-Larsson is now two shy of 100 career goals.
Kuemper, in his fourth straight start for the injured Antti Ranta since being acquired Feb. 21 from Los Angeles, stopped 27 shots.
”It’s nice to get these consecutive starts like this and just kind of get in the rhythm out there,” he said. ”Every start I feel more and more comfortable with the team and how we play. Tonight was just a gutsy effort from everyone.”
Kuemper’s previous shutout was Feb. 3 for the Kings against the Coyotes.
”It was a very solid game. He looked big to me tonight,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. ”A very solid play. It looked like when they shot nothing was going to go in.”
Kuemper had 24 saves in the Coyotes’ 2-1 win at Vancouver on Wednesday in his Arizona debut.
Although long out of the playoff picture, Arizona rebounded from a 5-2 loss at Colorado the previous night and improved to 10-3-2 in its last games. Vancouver lost its third straight and is 4-10-3 in its last 17.
”It’s frustrating,” Canucks forward Bo Horvat said. ”At the same time we need to take the positives out of this one. I thought we did battle hard until the end. I think we came on a little stronger there in the second half, we just have to capitalize on our chances instead.”
After mostly uneventful play through one period and most of the second, the Coyotes finally broke through on a power play.
With Vancouver defenseman Derrick Pouliot in the penalty box for high-sticking, Ekman-Larsson got loose and sent a sharp shot from outside the circle, just to the right of goalie Jacob Markstrom and Arizona led 1-0 with 4:53 left in the second. It was Ekman-Larsson’s 10th goal of the season. Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller got assists.
Kuemper shut down any attempts to tie it after that with 13 third-period saves.
Ekman-Larsson said Kuemper has been an easy fit.
”It makes it easy when he’s a great guy and you want to battle for him,” Ekman-Larsson said. ”I think everybody’s doing a really good job, too. We’re playing better as a team, too. It makes it easy on everyone.”
With the victory, Arizona pulled within one game of Buffalo, and two of Ottawa, to escape the bottom of the NHL standings. The Coyotes are four points behind Vancouver in last place in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks know they need to step up the offensive pressure early in games.
”It’s easier said than done,” coach Travis Green said. ”It’s easy to say from the outside let’s go out and get 10 to 15 shots. We gave up only six (in the first period). I thought we passed up a few chances, a few shots early in the game, but I’d like to see us put the puck in the net. You got to execute, you got to make passes to get scoring chances. That was a tight game both ways.”
NOTES: Ranta missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury. … Coyotes opened a five-game homestand. … Canucks are 6-13-1 against the Pacific Division. … Ekman-Larsson has scored at least 10 goals in five consecutive seasons. He has a point in five of his last six games. … Coyotes lead season series 2-1.
Canucks: At Los Angeles on Monday night.
Coyotes: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night.