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The Coyotes gave dedicated fans one last fond memory in Arizona Wednesday night when they bested the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in what will be, at least for now, their final game in the state they called home for nearly three decades. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo planned to sell the franchise’s hockey operations to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith in a $1.2 billion deal. The NHL announced the agreement on Thursday, making Wednesday’s game the Coyotes’ official final game in Arizona. 

The Arizona Coyotes salute fans after defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 5-2, at Mullett Arena April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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“This is the last one in Arizona for a little bit, and we wanted to have a good effort, show that to the fans,” Coyotes forward Clayton Keller said after the game. 

“There were a lot of emotions, and there was a lot of sadness,” Coyotes coach André Tourigny added. “We’ve gone through a bit of adversity, and I’m really proud the way the players responded.”

Sean Durzi of the Arizona Coyotes tosses a hat to fans as part of Fan Appreciation Night after the final game of the season following a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Mullett Arena April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz.  (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Relocation rumors buzzed over the years, but a move to Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat arena shared with Arizona State University, in 2022 seemed like the final nail in the coffin. 

But hockey in Arizona might still have a future. The NHL’s announcement on Thursday gives Meruelo the rights to the Coyotes if he can build “a new, state-of-the-art facility appropriate for an NHL team” within a five-year period. In the meantime, Smith gets an expansion team in Salt Lake City but will take control of the Coyotes’ assets. 

Fans hold up signs before an NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The Coyotes closed out the season with goals by Liam O’Brien, Matias Maccelli, Lawson Crouse, Dylan Guenther and Sean Durzi. Connor Ingram made 25 saves to earn his 23rd win of the season. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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