Darcy Kuemper back in goal for Coyotes, Brad Richardson scores shorthanded in 2-1 loss


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Darcy Kuemper returned to action Tuesday night. #15 Brad Richardson (foreground) scored Arizona’s only goal.

Ole Olafson, Reporter

Tuesday night’s match-up against Florida must have seemed ideal to Coyote fans.  The middle game of a three game home stand.  Two days of rest after a 7-3 drubbing of the second best team in the National Hockey League (NHL).  Best of all, Arizona’s All-Star, goaltender Darcy Kuemper was back between the pipes.

To the relief of Coyote faithful, the team recalled Kuemper from American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Tucson Roadrunners on Sunday, after a one-game conditioning stint the night before.  Tuesday’s game marked Kuempers first start since he suffered a lower body injury on Dec. 19 against Minnesota.  At the time of his injury, Kuemper had the second best goals against average (GAA) and led the NHL in save percentage (SV%).

At puck drop, Arizona, Calgary, Florida and New York were all tied with 70 points for the season.

Arizona and division rival, Calgary were currently holding down both wild card spots in the Western Conference.

Every point is crucial.

Kuemper proved perfect through the first period, stopping all eight shots against him.  Brad Richardson was the only goal scorer, with a shorthanded tally, assisted by Vinny Hinostroza and Niklas Hjalmarsson, at 14:16.

Just past the halfway point of the game, Frank Vatrano tied it up for the Panthers.

Mike Hoffman gave Florida their first lead of the game 1:10 before the middle of the third period, with a power play goal, after Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for allegedly tripping Evgenii Dadonov.

Even though Arizona outshot Florida 39-26, Kuemper had to abandon his goal crease, late in the game, to allow his team the extra attacker.

Even with an additional skater, Arizona couldn’t solve the puzzle of Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and an ideal match-up wound up going by the wayside for a point-hungry Coyotes squad.