Coyotes’ Darcy Kuemper leaves game after taking stick to face
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper left Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings after taking a stick blade to the face. He was later ruled out for the rest of the game.
The play occurred in the third period when L.A.’s Trevor Lewis skated toward the net and backhanded a puck in for the Kings’ second goal, making it 2-1. On Lewis’ follow-through, his blade caught Kuemper, evidently from the opening at the bottom of Kuemper’s mask.
Kuemper went down immediately and stayed there for several moments while he was looked at by a trainer. He was removed from the game, covering his face as he exited, and he was relieved by backup Calvin Pickard.
“I just saw him. It looked bad, but I think he’s going to be OK,” head coach Rick Tocchet said after the game. “I don’t know the status. Just was worried about his eye, but he says he feels OK. But still, I think it’s blurry. I mean, honestly, I don’t know a ton of it, but he seemed in pretty good spirits.”
Coyotes general manager John Chayka told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday morning that Kuemper was “OK,” and that the injury was “nothing too serious, by the sounds of it.” Kuemper had an appointment scheduled Wednesday to have his injury examined further.
The 28-year-old Kuemper has been one of the Coyotes’ most important players this season, filling in after the starting netminder Antti Raanta went down with an injury in late November. Kuemper’s last two games at Gila River Arena prior to Tuesday were shutouts, of the Blackhawks and Wild, respectively.
Kuemper was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday.
This season, Kuemper’s seventh in the NHL, the Saskatchewan native has nearly doubled his career high in starts, making his 54th start on Tuesday. His previous career high was 28.
Kuemper’s .924 save percentage and 2.34 goals against average coming into Tuesday ranked ninth and sixth in the NHL, respectively.
“The confidence in him right now, he’s unbelievable,” Coyotes forward Josh Archibald said on Sunday. “He’s the backbone of our team right now. He’s made timely saves, he’s made huge saves. He’s just been a tremendous team guy for us and we couldn’t thank him enough for everything he’s done so far.”