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Coyotes’ Darcy Kuemper asked for Calvin Pickard to start last game

Calvin Pickard #30 of the Arizona Coyotes in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 18, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

In a show of class and good sportsmanship, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper asked head coach Rick Tocchet to allow backup Calvin Pickard to start the final game of the season on Saturday, 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro reports.

Kuemper has started 22 consecutive games, dating back to Feb. 19. That’s the third-longest streak in franchise history.

The Coyotes were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday during their second-to-last game of the season against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Pickard, 26, has made only two appearances during the time Kuemper made 22 starts in a row. One of Pickard’s appearances was on March 11 against Chicago, and the other was on Tuesday when Kuemper exited after taking a stick to his face.

Kuemper’s request to the head coach to let the 26-year-old Pickard get another start came on Friday before practice.

“I love Cal. A tough situation, and he’s handled it probably as professionally as any guy I’ve known in 30 years,” Tocchet said on Wednesday. “If he plays, we root for him. You have 21 guys going to work hard for this guy. He deserves it.”

Pickard joined the Coyotes on waivers midseason after appearing in 11 games for the Flyers in 2018-19 before that.

In 16 games between the Flyers and Coyotes, Pickard owns an .875 save percentage. He has also previously played for the Maple Leafs and Avalanche. He is one of five goalies to appear in a game for Coyotes, who have dealt with a large number of injuries this season, joining Kumper, Adin Hill, Hunter Miska and Antti Raanta.

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