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Coyotes begin three game Western swing in Dallas

The Arizona Coyotes will play the first of three road games tonight when they take on the Dallas Stars.

Stay away!
Stay away!
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After an overtime loss at home against the Washington Capitals, the Arizona Coyotes go right back out on the road against three of the four teams in the old Pacific Division. The first game will be a good chance for redemption as the Coyotes take on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

Arizona Coyotes Dallas Stars
Points 18 (6th Pacific) 16 (7th Central)
Goals Per Game 2.47 (22nd) 2.74 (12th)
Goals Against Per Game 3.05 (23rd) 3.47 (29th)
Power Play Percentage 18.9% (T-15th) 15.4% (T-22nd)
Penalty Kill Percentage 78.1% (23rd) 79.1% (19th)
Fenwick Close Percentage 47.19% (25th) 47.97% (21st)
PDO 98.53 (25th) 98.31 (26th)

View from Arizona

The Coyotes only managed to take one point away from their tilt with Washington, but they did a good job of controlling the pace of play for much of the game, and got a nice game from Mike Smith, who had been waiting his turn for a while thanks to the strong play of Devan Dubnyk.

Arizona is still suffering from the mental mistakes that put them in the hole to begin this season. The first goal Washington scored came off of a Chris Summers shot attempt that missed the net entirely, leading to three forwards caught too deep in the Washington zone to stop the Capitals rush. The overtime winner came as Eric Fehr was left unmarked at point blank range in front of Smitty. Cleaning up those mistakes has to be priority one for a team that still has difficulty scoring goals.

View from Dallas

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The Dallas Stars escaped Arizona with a 4-3 regulation victory on November 11th thanks to a Ryan Garbutt shorthanded goal in the waning minutes of the third period. Since then, however, the Stars have continued to struggle to keep the puck out of their net. They've lost their last three games by a combined score of 14-7, including an 6-4 loss to the Eastern Conference basement dweller Carolina Hurricanes.

A tremendously struggling blueline was shaken up when the Stars dealt veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to Montreal in exchange for winger Travis Moen. The offense led by Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza has been good, but not good enough to compensate for the team's subpar defensive play.

Keys to the Game

  • Stick With the Plan - Though it didn't result in two points, the Coyotes did a terrific job slowing down the Washington offense and keeping its most dangerous players from getting easy looks. They will have to do the same thing with this Dallas team.
  • Don't Get Dirty - Arizona and Dallas have both played some chippy games in recent years. The Coyotes have to be careful to not give the Stars free power play opportunities
  • Pressure the D - The Stars' defense has been very fragile this year. Arizona may not be overloaded with skill, but they do have some. Those players need to keep the defense on their heels and in their zone.

Who's Hot

Sam Gagner has three assists in his last three games, and seems to have found some effectiveness playing with Shane Doan and Lucas Lessio. He could start to heat up a little bit.

Tyler Seguin scored twice in the Stars' loss to the Hurricanes. He is on pace to record over a point a game this season.

Injury Report

Brandon Gormley (lower body) is on IR with no expected return date, as is David Moss (upper body), who has been skating in recent days. Rob Klinkhammer (upper body) missed the last game, and was questionable for tonight's game. Martin Hanzal (lower body) was a surprise scratch against Washington, and may miss tonight's game too.

Rich Peverley (heart) will remain out for an extended period of time after a scary collapse last season. Patrick Nemeth (arm laceration) is out for the rest of the season as well. Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) will not play again until March. Coyotes fans can rejoice because Ryan Garbutt (upper body) will not play tonight, while Patrick Eaves (lower body) is expected to return to the lineup.

Puck Drop

Bit of an unorthodox start time for this one. Puck drops at 6:30 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen to the game on 92.3 FM.