Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) stops Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Motte (64) as Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz, back, watches during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Struggling Canucks drop fourth straight, fall 4-2 to Coyotes

Vancouver still holds Western Conference wild-card spot

VANCOUVER — Lawson Crouse broke a tie midway through the third period as the Arizona Coyotes used a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks to tighten the playoff race in the NHL’s Western Conference.

A wild third period saw the teams combine for five goals and two lead changes.

Crouse and Nick Schmaltz scored goals 2:29 apart for Arizona. Carl Soderberg had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes (33-27-8), who have won two in a row and three times in four games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson added an empty-net goal to go with an assist.

Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson scored goals less than three minutes apart for the Canucks (34-26-6), who lost their fourth consecutive game.

The win moves the Coyotes into a three-way tie with Vancouver and Winnipeg in points (74) for the two wild-card playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper made 36 saves. Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, making his fourth start for the injured Jacob Markstrom, stopped 36 shots.

Toffoli tied the game 1-1 at 3:19 on a power play. He took a pass at the side of the net from J.T. Miller and lifted a shot into a tight space over Kuemper’s shoulder for his 23rd goal of the season.

Pearson made it 2-1 when he knocked in the rebound of a Jake Virtanen shot at 6:16.

Schmaltz tied the game for Arizona at 10:10. He tipped a shot that Demko stopped but slipped in the rebound.

Crouse put the Coyotes ahead at 12:29 by tipping in an Ekman-Larsson point shot.

The Coyotes led 1-0 after 40 minutes on the strength of a strange first-period goal.

READ MORE: Slumping Vancouver Canucks missing three key players at practice

With the Coyotes on a power play, Soderberg ran into Canuck defenceman Oscar Fantenberg behind the net. The puck flipped into the air and over Demko’s shoulder into the net at 7:27.

Demko later made a big leg save on a Taylor Hall shot and stopped Phil Kessel on a partial breakaway.

Kuemper had a busy second period, stopping Virtanen on a breakaway, blocking a Toffoli drive from the face-off circle, and stopping a tip on a power play.

There were also some anxious moments when Demko ventured out of his net and was knocked down in a collision with Hall and Canuck defenceman Chris Tanev. Demko looked to be in pain but stayed in the game after the training staff examined his left leg.

NOTES: Canuck rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes dressed despite missing the Wednesday morning skate and skating by himself on Tuesday…. Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers didn’t dress after missing practice Tuesday but skating Wednesday morning. …Oscar Fantenberg drew into the lineup to replace Myers. … Coyote defenceman Jakob Chychrun is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury but could join the team later on their three-game road trip. … Vancouver has recalled defenceman Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield under emergency conditions from their AHL farm team in Utica.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

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