Streaking Clayton Keller leads Coyotes into matchup with Jackets

League: NHL

Posted on: 26 Mar, 2024 at 12:38 AM

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A red-hot Clayton Keller will look to continue his scoring streak when the Arizona Coyotes face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday in Tempe, Ariz.

Keller scored his 30th goal of the season in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, giving the forward 10 points (eight goals, two assists) over his past nine games. Keller has also tallied a goal in each of his past five games, marking both a career-best goal-scoring streak and a noteworthy run in his team's record book.

A goal on Tuesday would tie Keller for the fifth-longest goal-scoring streak in the history of the Coyotes/Jets franchise. Six consecutive games with a goal would also tie Keller with Daniel Briere (2000-01 season) for the longest goal-scoring streak since the team moved to Arizona ahead of the 1996-97 campaign.

The Coyotes have a 3-2-0 record during Keller's goal-scoring streak, with both losses coming against the Stars. Sunday's game was tied at 2 in the third period when Miro Heiskanen blasted home a slap shot at 14:32 to put Dallas ahead for good.

Heiskanen's goal came shortly after the Coyotes (29-37-5, 63 points) failed to score during an extended power play that included 1:23 of a five-on-three advantage. Arizona coach Andre Tourigny described that power play as "the turning point" of the game.

"I like our effort. I like our fight. I like our performance, I hate the result," Tourigny said. "I wish our players had something to show for it. It's frustrating."

The Blue Jackets are on a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) and are 1-5-2 in their past eight games. Columbus is looking to regroup after particularly rough back-to-back losses to the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights.

Over the two-day span, the Blue Jackets allowed their highest and fourth-highest shot totals of the season. Colorado outshot Columbus 51-24 in Friday's 6-1 defeat, and the Golden Knights tallied a 4-2 victory on Saturday on the strength of a 47-22 advantage in shots.

Columbus (23-36-12, 58 points) had a 10-8 advantage in shots and a 1-0 lead after the first period on Saturday, but Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent felt the fatigue of back-to-back games caught up to his team.

"When the body gets tired, the brain shuts down," Vincent said. "I saw a lot of mistakes. We were second on loose pucks. (We weren't) protecting the middle of the ice in the (defensive) zone. We were getting better at that, but (Saturday) in the second period, we didn't take care of that."

Goaltender Daniil Tarasov was excellent in stopping 43 of 47 shots against the Knights. Since the Blue Jackets have been rotating their goalies as of late, Elvis Merzlikins should be back in net on Tuesday looking to follow up his 45-save performance against the Avalanche.

The Coyotes have also been alternating goaltender starts, meaning Karel Vejmelka will probably face Columbus. Vejmelka is 4-2-0 with an impressive .935 save percentage in his past six games.

Johnny Gaudreau has seven points (one goal, six assists) over the Blue Jackets' past six games.

In the first meeting between the teams this season, the Coyotes earned a 3-2 win in Columbus on Nov. 16.

The Blue Jackets are 6-0-1 in their past seven road games against the Coyotes dating back to the 2015-16 season.

--Field Level Media