Jan Jenik scored twice, including the tiebreaker in a three-goal third period, and the Arizona Coyotes snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
Late in the game, Coyotes star Clayton Keller crashed legs-first into the boards and was taken off the ice on a stretcher with a serious lower-body injury. He was brought to a hospital for further evaluation.
“We know it will be long-term," Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “He’ll recover. For now it’s not the injury, it’s the human. It’s Kells the person. He competes so hard. Seeing him in pain and having a significant injury, that’s extremely tough.”
Barrett Hayton and Nick Schmaltz scored in the final three minutes for Arizona. Nick Ritchie had a goal in the first period and Karel Vejmelka stopped 39 shots in his sixth consecutive start.
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Jenik took a centering pass from Phil Kessel and broke a 2-all tie at 7:11 of the third. It was Kessel’s second assist of the night. Jenik has four career goals, all against San Jose.
“A lot of emotions out there,” Jenik said. “Glad we were able to come out with a win, but obviously we lost our best player."
The game was delayed about 10 minutes with 5:15 remaining after Keller, the Coyotes' leading scorer, crashed into the boards behind the San Jose net. He remained prone on the ice for about five minutes before being wheeled off, giving a thumbs-up sign as he left.
Keller, whose mother was in attendance, leads the Coyotes with 28 goals and 35 assists.
“I know that him and (Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche) made some contact, probably five seconds before that happened," San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. "It looked like he just lost an edge or lost his balance going in. He went in pretty nasty. Not good to see.”
Scott Reedy and Brent Burns scored, and James Reimer made 18 saves for the Sharks, who had won three of four. Reimer won his previous three starts.
The Coyotes had scored nine goals in their previous six games, never more than two in a game.
“I'm always trying to do my 200% and prove I deserve it,” said Jenik, recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League on Monday for the third time this season.
Reedy opened the scoring on a power play at 12:15 of the first period after Arizona forward Alex Galchenyuk was penalized for closing his hand on the puck late in a Coyotes power play.
Reedy, stationed in the crease, scored on the second deflection of Ryan Merkley’s shot from the left point that also got a piece of San Jose forward John Leonard on its way to the net. The goal came with three seconds left on the power play.
Ritchie tied it at 15:48 of the first when he poked a pass from Schmaltz through the crease into the right side.
Jenik scored his first goal of the season at 8:33 of the second, set up when Merkley fell down while stickhandling behind the Sharks’ net. Kessel picked up the puck and found Jenik alone in front.
“That was unfortunate, because at that point of the game we were playing pretty well. You lose an edge ... there’s another goal that basically was given to them, so those ones are tough to come back from,” Boughner said.
Burns tied it 2-all on a slap shot from the left blueline that got through a crowd in front at 14:07.
Each team had later chances. Tomas Hertl hit the right post at 4:19 of the second, and Merkley cleared a puck that trickled through Reimer’s pads just before it crossed the goal line with three minutes left in the period.
Vejmelka stopped Leonard on a breakaway five minutes into the third, and saved four shots during an 11-second flurry moments later before Jenik’s goal made it 3-2.
"I thought that Vejmelka was obviously their best player,” Boughner said. “I think that we had multiple chances. The difference of the game was really that they pounced on our mistakes and could capitalize, and we couldn’t.”
NOTES: Schmaltz has 22 points in March, the most for a Coyotes player in a calendar month since the franchise moved to Arizona before the 1996-97 season. … The Coyotes have won four straight home games against San Jose and are 5-0-1 in their last six at home versus the Sharks. … Kessel had his 100th career multi-assist game. … The Coyotes played without top-six defensemen Jakob Chychrun (lower body) and J.J. Moser (lower body) for the seventh straight game and were without forwards Lawson Crouse (upper body), Christian Fischer (lower body), Antoine Roussel (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body) and Andrew Ladd (lower body). Crouse was injured in Monday’s loss at Edmonton. … Sharks F Logan Couture returned after missing the Anaheim game Saturday with an upper-body injury. … Sharks D Jonah Gadjovich (undisclosed) did not play and is expected to miss three games. … Vejmelka played his fourth game over six days in five cities and three different time zones.
Sharks: Play at Colorado on Thursday in the second game of a road back-to-back.
Coyotes: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
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