Saturday, April 20 2024

WASHINGTON — Potential trade candidate Jason Zucker scored, Dylan Guenther had a goal and two assists and the Arizona Coyotes dealt the Washington Capitals a significant defeat in the playoff race, 5-2 Sunday.

The Capitals experienced a noticeable letdown from an important victory Friday night against Metropolitan Division-rival Philadelphia. They fell behind 2-0, gave up a goal 43 seconds after cutting that deficit in half, had two veterans penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost to an opponent that had just one win in the past 5 1/2 weeks.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesselring (5) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen (3) defends in the second period at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on March 3, 2024.Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesselring (5) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen (3) defends in the second period at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on March 3, 2024.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesselring (5) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen (3) defends in the second period at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on March 3, 2024.

After wasting a valuable opportunity against one of the NHL’s bottom five teams, Washington sits six points back of the Flyers for third place and seven behind Tampa Bay and Detroit for one of the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots. The trade deadline is Friday, and general manager Brian MacLellan said Saturday the team’s future is going to be the priority.

“I see the math that it’s unlikely, but you could get some help from other teams, too,” MacLellan said. “We have a week left to make some decisions.”

“I think they know where they’re at,” general manager Bill Armstrong said of his team’s pending UFAs. “I think there’s been some transparency and some openness all the way through not only with the players but also with their agents.”

Michael Kesselring also scored and Karel Vejmelka made 24 saves for the Coyotes, who have won two in a row since ending a 14-game losing streak. They’ve rebounded despite still being without injured All-Star Clayton Keller, who Armstrong said is not out long-term and could be back sometime over the next few games.

While this game was ongoing, longtime Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov cleared waivers and was assigned to Hershey of the American Hockey League. The Capitals decided to waive Kuznetsov rather than welcome him back after being cleared to practice by administrators of the player assistance program.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Karel Vejmelka makes 24 saves for Coyotes in win over Capitals

Source: Yahoo Sports

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