ARIZONA COYOTES

Coyotes beat Capitals for 2nd win in a row behind goals from Cooley and Guenther

Mar 3, 2024, 2:12 PM

Arizona Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11) is congratulated by left wing Jason Zucker (16) and ...

Arizona Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11) is congratulated by left wing Jason Zucker (16) and defenseman Michael Kesselring (5) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON — Potential trade candidate Jason Zucker scored, Dylan Guenther had a goal and two assists and the Arizona Coyotes dealt the Washington Capitals a significant defeat in the playoff race, 5-2 Sunday.

The Capitals fell behind 2-0, gave up a goal 43 seconds after cutting that deficit in half, had two veterans penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost to an opponent that had just one win in the past 5 1/2 weeks.

Logan Cooley scored on a breakaway after he beat defensemen Nick Jensen and Joel Edmundson down the ice on the play.

Zucker made the most of what could be one of his final games with Arizona, scoring on the power play for his ninth goal of the season. Zucker and defenseman Matt Dumba are among the Coyotes players on expiring contracts.

“I think they know where they’re at,” general manager Bill Armstrong said of his team’s pending UFAs. “I think there’s been some transparency and some openness all the way through not only with the players but also with their agents.”

Michael Kesselring also scored and Karel Vejmelka made 24 saves for the Coyotes, who have won two in a row since ending a 14-game losing streak. They’ve rebounded despite still being without injured All-Star Clayton Keller, who Armstrong said is not out long term and could be back sometime over the next few games.

After wasting a valuable opportunity against one of the NHL’s bottom five teams, Washington sits six points back of the Flyers for third place and seven behind Tampa Bay and Detroit for one of the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots. The trade deadline is Friday, and general manager Brian MacLellan said Saturday the team’s future is going to be the priority.

“I see the math that it’s unlikely, but you could get some help from other teams, too,” MacLellan said. “We have a week left to make some decisions.”

This disappointing performance did nothing to dispel the popular notion that the Capitals will be sellers, and some of their players most likely to be on the move were squarely in the spotlight — some good, some bad.

While this game was ongoing, longtime Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov cleared waivers and was assigned to Hershey of the American Hockey League. The Capitals decided to waive Kuznetsov rather than welcome him back after being cleared to practice by administrators of the player assistance program.

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