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Kuemper turns in strong showing despite Coyotes’ loss to Canucks

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) makes the save on Vancouver Canucks right wing Jake Virtanen in the second period during an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Darcy Kuemper didn’t get the result he wanted in his Coyotes debut at Gila River Arena on Sunday, but there wasn’t much he could do about that.

Daniel Sedin scored twice on a pair of highly skilled plays, and Darren Archibald scored on a one-timer off a 2-on-1 rush in the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-1 victory over the Coyotes. That fact aside, coach Rick Tocchet liked what he saw from the team’s new goaltender.

“Big goalie. Solid. Quiet in the net,” Tocchet said. “I thought he did a nice job for us.”

Kuemper made 24 saves in the game, and three in the second period were big ones to keep the Coyotes in the game, trailing 1-0. He stopped Bo Horvat on a shorthanded breakaway at 9:03, and then stopped Horvat’s rebound attempt.

He also stopped Nikolay Goldobin after the Canucks forward got behind Jason Demers on the left wing at 18:04.

“He was good, confident,” said Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, who scored the game-tying goal on a power play at 9:18 of the third period. “He takes up a lot of net and he’s always talking back there so I can definitely tell he’s going to help us.”

Sedin gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 2:16 of the first period with a power-play goal while Brad Richardson sat in the box on a controversial call for goalie interference. Henrik Sedin sent a blind, backhand pass across the slot to Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot’s touch pass found Daniel Sedin, who scored into an open net from the right post.

Sedin’s second goal came on a deflection of Brock Boeser’s shot from the point past Kuemper’s blocker to make it 2-1 at 11:43 of the third period.

“It fooled me a little bit,” Kuemper said. “I thought he was going to knock it down and play it as a breakaway because he had a lot of space.”

Archibald took a pass from Brandon Sutter on a 2-on-1 and scored a shorthanded goal at 14:08 of the third period to make it 3-1.

“I’m not happy with the result, obviously we wanted a win, but I learned a lot tonight about how we play,” Kuemper said. “The thing I really picked up is how hard we work. We battled, start to finish.”

Kuemper said it took him a little while to settle into the game with his new team after 19 games with the Los Angeles Kings.

“Your reads are a little bit different, how you play certain situations defensively,” said Kuemper, who signed a two-year extension after the Coyotes acquired him on Wednesday from the Los Angeles Kings for forward Tobias Rieder and goalie Scott Wedgewood. “Here, we play a little bit differently and I’ve just got to adjust my game a little bit. It’s mostly just reads. It will come quick. By the end of the first period, I was feeling pretty comfortable in there.”

“Getting that first game under my belt, I feel more a part of it now. It gives me something to build off of.”