Stepan scores twice, Coyotes defeat Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS — Derek Stepan scored twice, Darcy Kuemper made 35 saves and the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on Thursday night.
Arizona entered the day needing a win to stay in playoff contention, but was officially eliminated from the postseason when Colorado went into overtime with Winnipeg earlier in the night. The Avalanche needed just one point to clinch the final spot in the Western Conference.
It marks the seventh consecutive season the Coyotes will miss the playoffs.
Richard Panik and Conor Garland also scored for the Coyotes. Kuemper has started a career-high 55 contests and has won a career-high 27 games. Since the calendar flipped to 2019, Darcy Kuemper is 22-9-6 with a 2.02 goals against average.
The Coyotes – who have earned points in 16 of their last 22 games (13-6-3) – improved to 3-3-3 all-time against the Knights, and 3-1-1 at T-Mobile Arena.
Mark Stone scored Vegas’ lone goal and Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 stops in his first appearance since March 15. Fleury had been listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Golden Knights opened the scoring when Paul Stastny’s takeaway deflection fed Stone, who beat Kuemper with a backhand for his fifth goal with the Knights and career-high 33rd overall.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Panik gathered a loose puck in the slot and blasted a shot past Fleury while falling down to tie the game at 1 with 2:37 left in the first period.
Stepan’s two second-period goals pushed the Coyotes ahead 3-1.
On the first, Lawson Crouse fed Stepan, who deked around Fleury’s right pad to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. Stepan got his 15th goal of the season when he buried a rebound that would get challenged by Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, who was looking for goaltender interference. The Situation Room confirmed the incidental contact between Crouse and Fleury occurred in the white ice and did not constitute goaltender interference.
NOTES: After announcing they signed free agent defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year, entry-level contract, the former Hobey Baker Award finalist skated with the Golden Knights during warmups and was then officially scratched for the game. … Vegas fan favorite Ryan Reaves was also a healthy scratch, missing only his second game of the season.
Arizona: Concludes its season hosting Winnipeg on Saturday.
Vegas: Finishes the regular season Saturday at Los Angeles.