Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Sports

Schmaltz has hat trick to back Vejmelka in Coyotes’ 5-0 win

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Nick Schmaltz had his first NHL hat trick, Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves for his third shutout of the season and the Arizona Coyotes beat the St. Louis Blues 5-0 on Thursday night.

Schmaltz scored twice in a three-minute span midway through the second period, and scored again 13 seconds into the third period when his shot slid past the red line as one of the Blues knocked the goal off its moorings in a scramble in front of the net. The goal was confirmed after a review.

“Pretty cool,” Schmaltz said. “I feel like our game as a line and the team has been trending in the right direction and got rewarded tonight. It’s always fun when you can score and contribute in a big win like that. Lot of fun out there. Happy to get the first ‘hatty.’”

Travis Boyd and Barrett Hayton also scored in for the Coyotes in their third victory 15 games. Hayton has five goals in his last 11 games.

“It was kind of a weird play,” Schmaltz said anout his third goal. “I thought their guy pushed it (cage) off initially but I didn’t really know, so I just tried to whack it. Lucky enough they buzzed it right before they were ready to drop the puck for a faceoff. Fortunate to get that bounce.”

Vejmelka stopped a point-blank shot by Jordan Kyrou just before Schmaltz’s first goal, in what turned out to be the Blues’ best scoring chance.

“He was rested. He was ready. He was confident,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said about Vejmelka, who had alternated with Connor Ingram for the last eight games. “It was rare that they had a shot tonight that I was worried. There were not many situations where I was, ‘Oh, what is going to happen here.’ He was in control.”

Schmaltz scored his first goal 11 minutes into the second period when he tipped in cross-ice pass from Lawson Crouse for a 1-0 lead. Schmaltz picked up a loose puck along the boards three minutes later and skated in alone on Thomas Greiss, beating him high on the glove side. Greiss had 22 saves.

The Coyotes killed three power plays. St Louis had scored 14 power-play goals in its last 18 games, eighth in the league in that span. The Blues have lost three in a row and five of seven to fall back to .500 at 23-23-3.

“Those are three teams where you look at the schedule, and all due respect to to any team in this league, but those are the games you have to play better and grab points,” said Blues forward Brayden Schenn, whose team lost to Chicago and Buffalo in the previous two. “To come away with zero points, it’s obviously tough, and now you find yourself digging out of a hole again. Obviously not playing our best hockey right now.”

Defenseman Justin Faulk appeared to give the Blues a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game with a goal from the right circle, but the goal was disallowed when Robert Thomas was called for goaltender interference. Thomas skated through the crease moments before the shot went in, although the contact appeared negligible. Vejmelka said he was struck over the shoulder.

“Nothing crazy,” Vejmelka said of the contact, “but it’s no goal. They (Blues) played a really good game the first two periods. We need more wins right now. We have to be strong in the last game before the break.”

NOTES

Coyotes D Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body) is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks after being injured in the third period against Anaheim on Tuesday night. He has nine goals and 20 assists, second on the team in points to F Clayton Keller (42). … Thomas was removed from the game midway through the second period after taking a stick in the midsection and did not return. … Coyotes F Matias Maccelli returned after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. Crouse returned after missing four games with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Blues: At Colorado on Saturday night.

Coyotes: At Anaheim on Saturday night.

___

AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://www.twitter.com/AP–NHL

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