GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes won Game 7 and will not advance to the next round.
Oddly enough, this is life in an NHL season altered by a pandemic.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 24 shots, Clayton Keller scored and the Coyotes closed their seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues with a 1-0 victory on Monday.
” It was a fun series, ” Keller said. “Almost every game was close and there was a playoff atmosphere. It was a step in the right direction and we can finally play against another team. ”
The changing dynamics of playing hockey in a pandemic led the Blues and Coyotes to play seven games in a row with each other, for the first time in NHL or NBA regular season history.
The teams split the first six games, and the Coyotes were at their best in Game 7.
Keller scored in the second period. Kuemper, making his fifth start in the series, earned his first shutout this season and 19th of his career.
“If you’re going to win the playoffs, you have to win ugly games,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. ” The puck was bouncing a bit tonight, it was a kind of foul play. You have to win these games, close them and we did it. ”
The Blues had been on a roll since the series moved to the desert, scoring eight goals in two games. They got bogged down in the final, unable to get many good scoring chances or solve Kuemper.
Jordan Binnington had 18 saves for St. Louis.
“We have to find a way to create good opportunities,” said Blues center Ryan O’Reilly. “I felt like we were too outdoors, just shooting and not looking good.”
Ice at home wasn’t a huge advantage in this seven-game series.
St. Louis won the first game at home, but the Coyotes won the next three and the Blues won the first two in the desert.
Kuemper and Binnington were ready after having Saturday’s game off, each making some tough saves in the first period.
Arizona’s Derick Brassard came closer to breaking through in the first when an engulfing attempt appeared and hit Binnington on the back before rebounding.
St. Louis increased the pressure to start the second period, but the Coyotes scored when Keller beat Binnington on the glove side from the left circle in his fifth of the season.
The Blues kept buzzing into the period and Kuemper made some tough saves, closing them out during a 5v3 power play. Conor Garland was about to put the Coyotes up 2-0 late in the period after a slick move, but hit the far post.
Kuemper made a good positional save midway through the third period, sliding to stop Vince Dunn in a strange run, and another after the Blues took Binnington out with a minute to go.
“There wasn’t a lot of room on either side tonight,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “I didn’t get the result tonight and I think for both teams, we are looking forward to moving forward and playing against different teams.
KELLER AND THE BLUES
Keller grew up in Chesterfield, Missouri, so he has a strong connection to the Blues. He also seems to play the best he can against his hometown team.
Keller has five goals and 10 assists against the Blues, the most points he has scored against any NHL team.
“It’s the little things, the details, playing good defense,” he said. “Toc always says situational hockey and I think we did a good job tonight.”
Arizona defender Niklas Hjalmarsson missed his second straight game due to an upper body injury suffered on Friday against the Blues. Forward Drake Caggiula missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury, but he has skated again and could return soon.
Blues defender Torey Krug suffered an upper body injury in the third period and did not return.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
The Blues open a two-game home series against San Jose on Thursday.
The Coyotes host the Los Angeles Kings in the first of two games on Thursday.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.