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Recap: Coyotes End Season With Loss To Jets

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes ended their most successful season in five years with a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

Alex Galchenyuk and Brad Richardson scored goals for Arizona, which finished the campaign with a 39-35-8 record, just four points from earning a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It was a tough game," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "I think we were OK. You could tell our hockey IQ wasn't the greatest on some of those goals (against) because you have to be emotionally invested in it. But I thought the guys worked."

Video: Tocchet: 'Our Hockey IQ Wasn't The Greatest'

Galchenyuk scored an unassisted power-play goal at 2:21 of the first period to give the Coyotes a 1-0 led. The goal was his team-leading 19th of the season.

Winnipeg, which needed a win in the finale for both teams to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, scored the next four goals to take control of the game. 

"I thought we started OK, but you could tell the emotion that was there the last couple of months was lacking a bit," said Richardson, who scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season, and the 100th of his NHL career, early in the third period. "We tried to fight back, but it definitely was tough."

Video: Richardson: 'We Played Hard Until The End'

• Backup goalie Calvin Pickard stopped 28 of 32 shots in just his fourth start of the season for the Coyotes, who claimed him off waivers on Nov. 29.

"It was a pretty tight first period, there wasn't a whole lot both ways," Pickard said. "They kind of took over in the second. They were opportunistic and made a couple nice plays. Credit to us for coming out in the third period. It was typical 'Coyotes hockey,' we just kept coming and working, and we were right there at the end again."

Video: Pickard Discusses Playing Season Finale vs. WPG

Darcy Kuemper, who was named the team's MVP for the season, lobbied Tocchet on Friday to let Pickard play the finale.

"'Kuemps' came in my office and said 'I've been in (Pickard's) shoes before,'" Tocchet said. "He said, 'I feel for him and I want him to play the game.'"

Tocchet agreed Pickard deserved be rewarded for being a non-selfish team player all season; he played in just six games.

"I've been involved in the NHL for 30 years and I could name you a lot of guys that are good team guys, great guys that you'd go to bat for," Tocchat said. "And 'Pick' is up there and one on my list of guys. He knew the circumstances, and this guy's on ice taking shots and shots (in practice), a positive guy, always cheering guys on the ice. That's a hard job to do when he wants to be in there, and for him to do that, what he did the last three months, I'll never forget that. He's a great guy and I really appreciate and respect what he's done for our team."

• Trailing 4-2, Josh Archibald briefly pumped some intrigue into the game when he deflected a shot by Jason Demers past Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck at 14:50 of the third. The Jets challenged the goal, citing goaltender interference by Archibald. After video review, the goal was overturned.

• The Coyotes finished the season with 86 points, 16 more than last season. They were not eliminated from the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs until the middle of their 81st game of their season on Thursday. 

"Obviously we wanted to get in the playoffs," Richardson said. "I thought we played well enough to. It's disappointing. I think with all the injuries, though, we can hang our hats on the way we battled, the way we competed."

Galchenyuk agreed.

"It was definitely a tough one to show up for," Galchenyuk said of the finale, the team's only game without playoff implications. "We come in here, we get paid, we've got to do our job. So we came in, and it sucks we didn't get the win. I don't really know what to say after a game like this."

• Lawson Crouse notched three hits to set a new franchise record for hits in one season with 288.

• Stats that jump off the Event Summary: Christian Dvorak won eight of nine face-offs, and Kevin Connauton delivered seven hits.

• PGA golfer Jon Rahm, who played for Arizona State University before turning pro, dropped the ceremonial first puck before the finale.

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