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Arizona Coyotes follow up roller coaster game with test in Colorado

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After a bizarre and exhilarating game against Los Angeles, the Arizona Coyotes are off to Denver to play the Avalanche.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Did you have time to catch your breath? The Arizona Coyotes may not have.

After a third period for the ages against the Los Angeles Kings, the Arizona Coyotes find themselves back on the ice in short order, as they take on the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Colorado Avalanche
Points 35 (4th Pacific) 35 (6th Central)
Goals For 2.74 (8th) 2.83 (7th)
Goals Against 3.18 (29th) 2.77 (23rd)
Power Play 16.1% (27th) 17.6% (21st)
Penalty Kill 80.6% (15th) 79.2% (22nd)
5v5 Corsi For 47.2% (27th) 43.8% (30th)
PDO 101.1 (T-8th) 101.8 (T-4th)

View from Arizona

If there is such a thing as a loss that feels like a win, the Coyotes found it last night in a 4-3 OT loss to the Kings. Arizona surrendered two power play goals and fell behind by two late into the third, only to storm back with a pair of power play goals on a major penalty to even the score.

The comeback was a big step for a power play that sat at 29th in the league for most of the season. The point came with a price though, as the match penalty came after Boyd Gordon had to leave the ice with a blow to the head. He doesn't factor in much on the score sheet, but Boyd Gordon is an important fourth line center and defensive specialist, and his absence from the line-up will put additional pressure on an already strained center corps.

View from Colorado

For the Colorado perspective, check out Mile High Hockey

The Colorado Avalanche would be ahead of the Coyotes in the standings via regulation/overtime wins were they in the Pacific Division. Instead, they have the misfortune of playing in the ultra-competitive Central Division.

Colorado is more or less following the formula that led to success in 2013-14; a very low Corsi Percentage (dead last in the league this season), coupled with good goaltending. This time though, it's not Semyon Varlamov that's out-playing his career numbers. This year, it's Reto Berra who is overperforming, with a .922 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA in 14 appearances this season.

Colorado is not remotely out of the playoff picture, as they are only five points behind Nashville for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. But they will need a little bit of help to hang around.

Keys to the Game

  1. Better PK: Two inopportune penalties led to two power play goals for the Kings. Arizona needs to avoid the box.
  2. Strong Start: Last night's game was both physically and emotionally draining. Arizona can best conserve energy by playing with a lead.
  3. Possession: Colorado is one of the few teams that is worse at possessing the puck than Arizona is. The Coyotes need to take advantage.

Players to Watch

Mikkel Boedker assisted on all three Arizona goals last night. He leads the team with 26 points.

Gabriel Landeskog has a goal and four assists in his last five games. He only has eight goals this season, which is slightly underwhelming by his standards, but his 18 assists tie him with Tyson Barrie for second most on the team.

Injury Report

Arizona will be without both Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon for tonight's game, while Joe Vitale and Mike Smith remain on injured reserve.

Colorado has Ben Street and Brad Stuart on injured reserve, while Jesse Winchester has not played since the preseason. Both Nate Guenin and Reto Berra are listed as questionable for tonight's game.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.