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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Coyotes visit Red Wings in battle of hot goalies

Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Goals could be scarce in Detroit on Friday with the Arizona Coyotes’ Karel Vejmelka and the Red Wings’ Ville Husso protecting the net.

Both goaltenders recorded shutouts on Wednesday. The Coyotes snapped a four-game losing streak by blanking Carolina 4-0, and the Red Wings silenced Nashville 3-0.

Vejmelka has notched two of his three career shutouts in the past two weeks. Husso leads the NHL with three shutouts.

Vejmelka’s father was in the stands to watch his son’s latest outing.

“It’s unreal. It’s a dream,” Vejmelka said. “We really enjoyed a couple of games together … I can’t believe it. He never watched an NHL game live, so it’s something special for us and for our family.”

Born in the Czech Republic, the younger Vejmelka is in his second NHL season. He’s 6-5-1 with a 2.98 goals against average this season as the team’s No. 1 goaltender.

He made 36 saves against the Hurricanes.

“He was solid, he was quick, and he looked in control,” coach Andre Tourigny said. “They had a lot of deflections, a lot of pucks thrown at the net where the puck can deflect into a broken play. It was not an easy game, so great job by Veggie.”

Arizona needs quality performances from its goaltender and defense, as it ranks in the bottom five in the league scoring (2.67 goals per game). Lawson Crouse scored two goals at Carolina and leads the team with nine.

The Coyotes had no trouble scoring in their last visit to Detroit in March. Nick Ritchie was among three players who had two goals in a 9-2 romp.

It won’t be that easy putting pucks past Husso. He stopped 26 shots in his latest shutout, including four saves when Nashville had a 5-on-3 power play during the second period.

“This probably was the first goalie complete win. He stole the game,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “He’s been great, solid, and there are games we’ve been real good in front of him and he hasn’t had to do a ton. But (Wednesday), he was the difference in the game. He was the best player on the ice, and if he’s not that good in the second or even the third (periods), we’re probably looking at a different outcome.”

Detroit scored two second-period goals in support of Husso, then added an empty-netter in the final minute.

Husso came into the season in a time-share with Alex Nedeljkovic. He has emerged as the No. 1 option, compiling an 8-2-3 record and 2.36 GAA.

“The guys were unbelievable in front of me again (Wednesday), and that was an amazing 5-on-3 kill,” said Husso, who was acquired from St. Louis in an offseason deal. “That gives us a lot of energy, and I think we are on a good track right now. There are still things where we can be better, but I like the work we do every day.”

Dylan Larkin, the team’s captain, scored the first goal and has six points in his last three games — all Red Wings victories. Defenseman Filip Hronek has scored four times in the same span, including a power-play goal against the Predators.

“We’re finding ways to win right now, and when things aren’t going our way, it’s not snowballing,” Larkin said. “It’s a huge improvement over the past few years.”

–Field Level Media



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