NHL Hockey

Coyotes looking up ahead of meeting Panthers

Strong work by Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper and a stout defense in front of him are making hockey quite interesting in the Southwest desert.

Arizona kicked off a season-long seven-game homestand against Winnipeg on Sunday, and the Coyotes found themselves on the winning side of a 4-1 decision against Jets -- who led the Central Division at the time.

The Coyotes are inching closer to the second wild-card spot, buoyed by victories in six of their last eight games. And they have done it with good goaltending from Kuemper and a strong overall defensive effort: The goalie has gone 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, and the club has allowed two goals or fewer in all six wins.

Arizona hosts the Florida Panthers at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday night as the Coyotes look to climb the standings even more in the first meeting between the teams this season.

"It's fun. There are big things at stake here," said Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, a likely vote-getter when the NHL announces the Jack Adams Award given to the league's top coach.

The Coyotes made one swap on Monday, the NHL's deadline to make trades. In a transaction involving centers, the team acquired Michael Chaput from the Montreal Canadiens for Jordan Weal.

Chaput, 26, had no goals and five assists in 32 games for Montreal this season. The Coyotes acquired Weal from the Philadelphia Flyers in January, but the forward played in just 19 games for the Western Conference team.

The club also called up Christian Dvorak, who has not played an NHL game this season. Dvorak (pectoral muscle surgery) had been on a conditioning assignment with the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners.

The Illinois native has had a productive career with the Coyotes since being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. The lefty-shooting Dvorak has netted 15 goals in 78 games in each of his first two seasons.

Florida was not a major player at the trade deadline as they arrived in Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche, but general manager Dale Tallon did secure assets and open up cap space in preparation for free agency when it opens on July 1.

The team traded Derick Brassard, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 1, to the Avalanche, and the center walked just a few paces over from Florida's dressing room to Colorado's and played against the Panthers after flying to Denver with the Eastern Conference team.

Tallon also moved defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich to Winnipeg for a seventh-round pick, but the GM seems primed to extend bottom-six center Riley Sheahan, who came over with Brassard from the Penguins along with draft picks for centers Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

The Panthers rallied for a 4-3 overtime win on Aaron Ekblad's game-winner against the Avalanche, and the club has been widely rumored as a landing spot for Columbus Blue Jackets stars Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, two of the most prized unrestricted free agents.

"We'll be very aggressive after the season," Tallon said earlier in the day after the deadline expired. "We have lots of room now. We have lots of picks. We'll turn this into a positive thing."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 26, 2019

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