Vejmelka logs shutout as Coyotes beat Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Karel Vejmelka made 36 saves — part of a family moment for the Arizona Coyotes goalie.
With his father arriving from Europe to watch him play in an NHL game for the first time, Vejmelka turned in an impressive performance while helping the Coyotes beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 on Wednesday night to stop a four-game slide.
“It’s a dream,” he said of having his father, Karel, watch him play. “It’s something unbelievable. It’s something so special for us, our family.”
Lawson Crouse scored two goals, including an empty-netter, and Nick Schmaltz and Nick Bjugstad also scored for the Coyotes on the eighth stop of a 14-game road trip. Shayne Gostisbehere and Dylan Guenther each had two assists.
Vejmelka has two shutouts in 13 appearances this season.
Pyotr Kochetkov, just hours after a contract extension was announced, stopped 22 shots for Carolina. He wasn’t expected to be on the ice, but scheduled starter Antti Raanta was the backup instead.
Carolina lost its fourth game in a row. It was shut out for the second time this season.
“We’re in a tough stretch, for sure,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “When you’re not scoring, it makes it real tough.”
The Coyotes have their fathers along for a couple of games, so that arrangement had the elder Vejmelka in attendance. He saw quite a show.
The Coyotes were alert in front of their goalie, blocking 30 shots. Defenseman J.J. Moser had seven of the blocks.
“We played with that desperation and that paid off,” coach Andre Tourigny said.
Defenseman Troy Stecher blocked a pair of shots during a Carolina power play in the first period. He was clearly in pain and left the bench moments later for treatment, but returned to the ice.
“He is hurt, no doubt about it,” Tourigny said. “You play like that, you end up blocking a ton of shots.”
The Hurricanes’ previous three games ended in overtime losses, marking the first time that had happened in franchise history.
Carolina put 14 shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes. Plus, winger Andrei Svechnikov missed wide on an open net during the Hurricanes’ 5-for-3 power play.
“You have to come away with something,” Brind’Amour said.
The Coyotes scored on their only first-period shot, with Schmaltz beating Kochetkov 66 seconds into the game for his first goal of the season in his third game.
“We came out of it up one on one shot,” Crouse said. “It’s hard to believe. ... We escaped the first period and learned from it.”
Crouse got his first goal of the night 1:52 into the third, seconds after a power play expired. Bjugstad scored his fourth goal at 9:14 of the third, giving him three goals in his last two games. Crouse closed it out with his team-leading ninth goal with 2:07 left.
Kochetkov played in the third consecutive Carolina game. Raanta had some discomfort earlier in the day, though Brind’Amour said he thought he would still play until shortly before the game.
“He just didn’t feel right,” he said.
SIGN HIM UP
The Hurricanes announced the signing of Kochetkov to a four-year contract extension at an average annual value of $2 million per season through 2026-27.
Kochetkov, 23, appeared in his eighth career game and fifth this season Wednesday night. He entered the game with a 5-0-2 career record.
Defensemen Josh Brown, missing a game for the first time this season, and Juuso Valimaki of the Coyotes were out with upper-body injuries. ... The Hurricanes are 12-2-2 in the last 16 meetings with Arizona.
Coyotes: Friday at Detroit.
Hurricanes: Friday at Boston.
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