Thursday’s Arizona Coyotes game could very well have been dubbed “The Shootout at Gila River Arena”—unfortunately, late in the third period, after the smoke from 13 goals had cleared, Coyotes fans witnessed a disturbing ending to a ‘wild’ game.
The first period couldn’t have gone better for the Coyotes faithful.
Phil Kessel scored his eighth goal of the season, with new Coyote and star winger, Taylor Hall picking up an assist on his home-ice debut.
Things loosened up in the second period though as Ryan Donato and Marcus Foligno scored early for Minnesota.
Jakob Chychrun tied it up for Arizona, half-way through the period, but Ryan Hartman and Eric Stall stretched the lead to 4-2 before the horn sounded to end the period.
The Coyotes fans that didn’t return from the concessions in a timely manner wound up missing goals from Oliver Ekman-Larson and another from Chychrun to tie the game at 4 goals each.
Former Bemidji State defenseman, Brad Hunt, found the net, followed shortly thereafter by Mats Zuccarello to open up another two-goal lead for the visiting Wild.
Clayton Keller answered for Arizona to get the home team back to within one goal, with 14:37 left in the final period, but Ryan Suter and Luke Kunin scored another pair of goals for Minnesota, to make the final score 8-5.
What was most disheartening to Coyotes fans—even more than the final score, was what happened with 3:10 remaining in the game when former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper made a save for his current team and then went down on the ice.
Kuemper was making a sliding save, moving from left to right in his goal crease and, after kicking out his right leg, Kuemper went down on the ice surface, and laid prone, on his stomach for several moments before Coyotes training and medical staff rushed out to assist.
Kuemper appeared to be in a significant amount of pain and practically doubled-over as he was helped off the ice.
He threw his blocker glove to the ice in frustration as Coyotes trainers helped him to the locker room.
Antti Raanta will replace Kuemper in goal as he recovers from what is currently being reported as a lower body injury.
Thursday’s injury may seem eerily familiar to the two goaltenders.
Their roles were reversed, when Kuemper began last season as Raanta’s backup and had to step in at just about this same time in the season when Raanta suffered an extensive lower body injury that put him out for the season.
Coyotes fans are hoping that Kuemper’s injury will be much less severe as his 15-8-2 record is a large part of the reason why Arizona is holding down the top spot in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.
It appears that the Coyotes have called up Adin Hill from their AHL affiliate, Tucson Roadrunners, to backup Raanta.