Team effort: Coyotes get contributions of all kinds in series win

Aug 7, 2020, 4:51 PM
Brad Richardson #15 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates his game winning overtime goal at 5:27 to def...
Brad Richardson #15 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates his game winning overtime goal at 5:27 to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in Game Four of the Western Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Without question, Darcy Kuemper saved the Arizona Coyotes’ hides a few times. He was a pivotal reason why the team won its Stanley Cup Qualifying round series over the Nashville Predators in four games, capped by a 4-3 overtime win on Friday afternoon in the Edmonton bubble.

“He had a hell of a series for us,” head coach Rick Tocchet said.

But while Kuemper came through for his teammates, there were contributions from many different places on the Coyotes, from veterans to young 20-somethings, from high-paid stars to fourth-liners, from the head coach to the video coach.

Friday’s overtime win over Nashville felt like the epitome of that.

In the same game that Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller each got their team-leading fourth points of the series, Vinnie Hinostroza — a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2 — fed veteran Brad Richardson for a series-winning goal. That was necessary because defenseman Jordan Oesterle’s would-be game-deciding goal in the third period was countered by a Nashville equalizer with 0:32 seconds left in regulation.

“You’re always going to have some guys that might not play or might not be the first guy to shine or whatever,” Tocchet said. “But for me, a guy like Jordan Oesterle, he was on the fourth pair of defensemen. He wasn’t even going to play. But as training camp went on, I thought, ‘This guy’s been our best defenseman in camp.’ Him and a couple other guys. And I thought he was really good. I love the underdog guys. I thought Oesterle was great.

“Vinnie doesn’t dress [in the first two games]. He didn’t pout. He makes a big play on the goal. Stanley Cup Playoffs – that’s what it’s all about. It’s the guys being able to stay with it, and any time we call your number, whether you’re dressed or not, you come and those two guys shined for us. I love those type of guys, the underdog guys.”

That doesn’t just apply to the players. Video coach Steve Peters radioed down to assistant coach John MacLean after a Nashville goal by Kyle Turris put the Predators up 2-1 in Game 3. Peters saw that the play was offside, and the challenge was successful. That kept the game at 1-1, and Arizona went on to win 4-1.

Nashville played well in the series and gave the Coyotes hurdles they had to clear. There were times when Arizona had its back on the ropes. But the greatest positive is that the Coyotes overcame those challenges, hung in when they had to and scored when it counted the most. Their well-paid veterans showed up. Their depth players scratched and clawed. Even Michael Grabner, who suffered an eye injury last year and has been a healthy scratch at times this year, had two goals in the series.

And when a deflating goal by Nashville tied the game in the third period on Friday, Tocchet and the veteran players did what they had to to keep Arizona ready to play for overtime.

“It was a little quiet,” Tocchet said. “But I just went in. I usually go in around the seven, eight-minute mark and I knew I had to get in there earlier just to say, ‘Hey, we’re back in this. We get a goal, we win the series.’ I just wanted them to relax, and [captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson] said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ And the guys started chirping.

“The guys started to chirp and you could see the energy. When we went out [to the ice], that’s when I heard some guys really, the whole team was yelling and screaming as we’re walking out.”

The team was screaming when they went back in the dressing room, too.

Penguin Air

Arizona Coyotes

Goaltender Harri Sateri #30 of the Arizona Coyotes is congratulated by Nick Schmaltz #8 after defea...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes announce preseason schedule, to play game in Tucson

The Coyotes released their six-game preseason schedule for 2022-23 Thursday and will not play in the Valley before the regular season.
1 day ago
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper celebrates after the Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay L...
Nikash Nath

Coyotes awarded 2024 3rd-round pick from Darcy Kuemper trade

Darcy Kuemper was traded to Colorado in July 2021 for a package including a conditional 2024 third-round draft pick that is now Arizona's.
4 days ago
Fans watch as the Arizona Coyotes warm up before the NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Gi...
Character Counts

Arizona Coyotes Foundation’s 2022-23 grant cycle to open July 1

The Arizona Coyotes Foundation announced that the 2022-23 grant cycle will open from July 1 and run through Aug. 1.
11 days ago
National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announces the Arizona Coyotes #3 overall draft...
Arizona Sports

Here’s where the Arizona Coyotes pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is set to be a big one for the Coyotes, having seven selections in the draft's top 45 picks.
3 days ago
Logan Cooley speaks at the Top Prospects Media Availability at the NHL Scouting Combine at HarborCe...
Sam Graveline

Coyotes nab F Logan Cooley in Bleacher Report’s latest NHL mock draft

Bleacher Report's Lyle Richardson has the Coyotes taking American center Logan Cooley with the No. 3 overall pick in his latest mock draft.
13 days ago
President, CEO & Alternate Governor Xavier A. Gutierrez (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty I...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes hope to agree with Tempe on arena plan by end of year

Arizona Coyotes CEO and president Xavier Gutierrez said an ideal timeline to get an agreement on a new arena would be by the end of 2022.
17 days ago
Team effort: Coyotes get contributions of all kinds in series win