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Following Shane Doan’s wisdom, Coyotes beat Jets to win 3rd straight

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets with Coyotes center Alex Galchenyuk (17) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Shane Doan’s number was retired before the Coyotes played the Jets on Sunday night, and he had some prophetic advice for his old team when he met with the media after his ceremony.

“This is a huge game. Obviously [Jets forward Patrik] Laine got a couple [goals] the other night and so you’re going to have to be good tonight, because once he gets rolling he’s tough to stop,” Doan said. “But this is a big game and they’ve got to find a way to win to get some points.”

Laine scored not long after he said that. Winnipeg took a 1-0 lead, but that was the only goal the Jets would get. Arizona won 4-1 despite being outshot by the Jets 35-24 as Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves. The Coyotes got their two points.

It was Arizona’s sixth win in its last eight games.

“I’ve got to tell you, the fans, it was a packed house tonight obviously for Doaner’s night, but there was a lot of juice,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “It got quiet after the first goal but then ‘Richie’ [Brad Richardson] with a big goal for us to get us back. It was a fun hockey game to coach because I could tell the crowd was into it.

“It helps the players when you get fans screaming and yelling, cheering you on. Killing a penalty and they’re clapping for you.”

Doan played 1,540 games for the Jets/Coyotes franchise, the one that existed before the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to give the city back its NHL status. So it was fitting that Doan’s number was retired on the same night the Coyotes were playing the Jets 2.0, and that the Coyotes beat those Jets right afterward.

“A lot of had a lot of extra juice tonight, that was a pretty cool ceremony,” Richardson said. “It actually kind of got emotional at times. It was — it’s a hell of an era for this organization, a great guy, and deserved every second of that. So, it was really cool for all of us to be part of that.”

Indeed, it was a big two points in the standings.

With the win, the Coyotes moved to within three points of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, a spot currently owned by the Minnesota Wild, who have played one more game than the Coyotes this season.

The game got started in the latter half of the 7 p.m. hour after Doan’s number retirement ceremony, and Arizona went on to score four unanswered goals from Richardson, Lawson Crouse, Clayton Keller and Josh Archibald (empty-net).

“We wanted to come out and have a good effort,” Keller said. “It definitely fires you up seeing that and everything that [Doan] gave to the organization. So, it’s a special night … it’s great to cap it off with a win.”

It was a crucial win to begin a seven-game homestand as the Coyotes fight for a playoff spot. Kuemper has been a big part of their recent stretch of success, owning a .960 save percentage in his last four appearances (all wins).

“He’s been unbelievable,” Richardson said. “It’s really great to see. He’s probably been first star of pretty much every win we’ve had the last little bit.”

Kuemper has stepped in with the starter Antti Raanta out for most of the season.

“We’ve been under the 8-ball all year, under the gun, because of the injuries,” Tocchet said. “Guys haven’t used it as an excuse. It’s nice right now. We’ve got a long way to go, though. It’s hard, but we’ve got to get back to earth tomorrow.”

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