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Keller Clicking: Coyote to Notch 250th Consecutive Game

Twenty-two-year-old impresses with streak and recent success

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Clayton Keller will play his 250th consecutive game tonight when the Coyotes host the Los Angeles Kings, 7 p.m., at Gila River Arena.

Keller's streak is the fifth-longest in franchise history -- and eight games shy of former Coyote Mikkel Boedker for fourth.

And, by the way, Keller's consecutive game No. 249 wasn't bad: he scored the lone goal in the Coyotes 1-0 win over the Blues.

The 22-year-old enters Thursday's game with points in four of his previous five games (3G, 3A), including two game-winning goals and a final-second, game-tying goal that forced overtime.

The Coyotes won all three games in which Keller scored in the St. Louis series. 

Team success coinciding with Keller's scoring is nothing new. The Coyotes have an astounding 23-4-3 record when Keller scores, dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season. 

Keller's consecutive games streak began October 7, 2017.

Head coach Rick Tocchet knows the physical toll the game can take; he applauded Keller's durability Thursday morning.

"It's tough to play that many in a row," Tocchet said. "It's a testament to Kells. It's a tough game. You're going to be sore and you're going to be hurting sometimes. He plays through it, which is nice."

While Tocchet is impressed with Keller's streak, he is also pleased with specific moments -- Keller's play in recent games.

"I've liked his game the last 4-5 games," Tocchet said. "He's getting on the puck, he's doing the right things. He's making some smart decisions at the blue line. If he does that, he's going to be successful. Now, it's the consistency level. Can he do it for long periods of time? That's the big thing with the young guys -- a very even keel. It's a different game and he's getting better at maturity, when it comes to that."

Keller's goal Monday's 1-0 was assisted by line mate Nick Schmaltz. 

"Kells is a great player," said Schmaltz. "He thinks the game well. He's got a really good IQ out there. I think he knows where to be. I think he's doing a good job away from the puck working, and I think that's what we're trying to do as a line -- work away from the puck and create turnovers and use our skill from there. He's been good for us, and hopefully we can keep it going and be consistent." 

Keller and linemates Schmaltz and Conor Garland -- the so-called "Short Leash Line" -- have combined for 20 points (9G, 11A) since being joined together, seven games ago.

"I think our line's had some chemistry," Keller said. "We're working really well together and I think we've just got to stay on it. When we're moving our feet, I think that's when we're successful. I think the biggest thing is always having a guy at the net too. All of us are skilled players, but we have to have a guy there. Coaches have harped on that a bit. I think it's the little things, details, playing good defense." 

Keller called the seven-game series win over the Blues, "A step in the right direction.

"But now, it's finally getting to play a different team and see a little different look," he said. "I think everyone's excited for that challenge, but we have a long way to go."

Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images

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