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Carolina Hurricanes @ Arizona Coyotes Preview: going for two

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Less than a week after a 5-4 loss in Raleigh, the Arizona Coyotes again face off against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes were fresh off an absolutely horrific road trip last night and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild.  This goes to show the difference in the home and away stats for the Yotes. They'll get a chance at redemption against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Carolina Hurricanes
Points 29 (4th in Pacific) 26 (7th in Metro)
Goals For 77 (14th) 69 (26th)
Goals Against 90 (29th) 87 (25th)
Power Play % 14.9% (29th) 15.6% (27th)
Penalty Kill % 82.6% (9th) 74.6% (29th)
5v5 Corsi For 46.4% (28th) 53.9% (3rd)
PDO 101.0 (9th) 96.6 (30th)

Stats from war-on-ice.com

View from Arizona

You can make the case that the Coyotes probably shouldn't have won last night's game. They were badly outshot for most of the game, made a lot of little mistakes, and they looked completely outplayed by Minnesota. If not for a great stretch pass to Mikkel Boedker from Tobias Reider, a timely power play in overtime, and the great work of Anders Lindback the game could have very easily gone the other way.

The Coyotes win last night was one of their most important of the season. After a disastrous road trip the team needed to come home and get a win to reset themselves. Despite dropping five games in a row the team is still in playoff contention in the tire fire that is the Pacific Division. A win tonight could move them up to second place while a loss puts them in danger of being overtaken by Edmonton or Anaheim. Even Calgary in the bottom of the division at 26 points could overtake the Desert Dogs' 29 points with a good stretch.

View from Carolina

For the Carolina perspective check out Canes Country

After the Hurricanes beat the Coyotes last week some people began to pose the question, is Carolina actually better then their record suggests? The answer seems to be a resounding maybe. Granted beating the Coyotes while they were on the roadtrip from hell isn't that impressive but the underlying numbers seem to suggest that Carolina is suffering from bad luck, more so then being a bad team.

Combine that with an impressive effort in a 6-5 loss to Dallas, one of the best teams in the NHL right now, and a 5-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks last night, honestly another team that should be better, the Hurricanes may actually be a decent team with a terrible record.

Carolina's offense seems to finally have kicked in as they have scored five goals in each of their past three games. With a team with such a low PDO last time we played you would expect them to start scoring more eventually and it looks like they got the memo.

In the past three games they have gotten contributions from their best players, Justin Faulk has three goals and two assists, Jeff Skinner has four goals, and Eric Staal has a goal and three assists. Their 6-5 loss to Dallas suggests that their goaltending is still a weakness but the Canes have certainly been playing better this past week.

Keys to the Game

  • Get a quick start. In a somewhat unusual situation both teams played last night, so don't expect either club to be the more rested team. It seems very likely that the team that scores first and sets the pace early will be the one to get the win.
  • Protect the goal. Mike Smith sat last night with a day to day injury and as of right now it isn't clear if he will be able to be back in net tonight. With that in mind our options for goaltender are a tired backup and a current AHL goaltender. The team in front needs to be at the top of their game in a game with a less than ideal goaltending situation such as tonight's.
  • Shots. We have gotten used to the Yotes being badly outshot this season but last night may have taken the cake. Thankfully things started to turn around in the third period but the shots on goal after two was just unacceptable. Combine that with the Carolina's weak goaltending, more shots is very important tonight.

Players to Watch

Mikkel Boedker proved that he could score goals against someone other then the Ottawa Senators with the Coyotes two goals last night. With the pace he is on right now he is certainly making the case for a nice juicy contract extension.

While Jeff Skinner may have had the hat trick last night, Victor Rask has also been impressive this week. With 5 assists in the last three games, including the primary assist on Justin Faulk's game winner against the Coyotes, he is another Carolina player who is having a great week this week.

Injury Report

Shane Doan, Joe Vitale, and Martin Hanzal are all on injured reserve with a lower body injury, orbital bone and concussion issues, and a lower body injury respectively.  Smith is also day to day with a lower body injury having missed last night's game and is questionable for tonight.

In Carolina Nathan Gerbe and James Wisniewski are both on the injured reserve with a lower body injury and torn ACL respectively.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game will be at Gila River Arena at 7pm Arizona Time and will be on Fox Sports Arizona and AZ Sports 98.7 FM.