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Pouring like an Avalanche coming down the mountain

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The Arizona Coyotes travel to the Mile High City looking to end a three game losing streak.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes came home for a quick two day home stand over the Valentine's weekend. Things didn't go according to plan as they lost both legs of the pair. Tonight, they return to the road once again for one day trip to Denver for a showdown with the Colorado Avalanche.

Matchup at a Glance

Stat Arizona Coyotes Colorado Avalanche
Points 47 (6th Pacific) 57 (7th Central)
Goals per game 2.19 (27th) 2.45 (24th)
Goals against per game 3.23 (28th) 2.77 (t-22nd)
Power play % 22.4 (5th) 12.1 (30th)
Penalty kill % 78.1 (27th) 82.7 (t-11th)
5on5 Corsi for % 48.8 (23rd) 43.9 (29th)
PDO 97.0 (t-29th) 101.2 (5th)


The View from Arizona

The Coyotes lost both home games this past weekend, mainly because of big third period breakdowns. They took a 2-0 lead on San Jose before losing 4-2, allowing two third period goals. They were tied at one after two periods on Saturday against the Rangers, but lost 5-1 thanks to another collapse. In fact, over the last five games, the Coyotes have been outscored 9-2 in the third period. Overall, they have been outscored 16-8 in that stretch, going 1-4-0. They have been playing better, but the offense continues to elude the team and it's costing them big.

One constant as far as offense goes for the Coyotes has been the dynamic duo of Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Yandle leads the team in assists with 36 and points with 40 while OEL leads the squad with 16 goals. Yandle has three assists in the last five games and eight points in eight February games. Ekman-Larsson has a goal and three helpers in the last five games, with three goals and three assists in February. Truly, they have been the one offensive constant for a team that has struggled to score with any kind of regularity.

The View from Colorado

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Colorado had lost four games in a row before getting a big Valentine's Day win over the Dallas Stars by a final score of 4-1. They needed that win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, especially after being outscored 15-6 in the four game losing streak.

The Avalanche offense has been very top heavy this season. They have eight players with 30 plus points, led by the veteran duo of Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Yes, Iginla and Tanguay are a team's leading scorers in 2015, despite being on a roster that includes Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. They also have six players that have played at least 30 games on the season, but have less than 10 total points. That's the same number as the Coyotes. Without the depth scoring, the Avs put a lot of pressure on their top six and their goaltending.

Last year, Semyon Varlamov was a Vezina candidate. This season, he has been just above average, with a 2.61 gaa and a .921 sv%. He is 26th in goals against and 14th in save percentage. In fact, he has been outplayed by backup Calvin Pickard for much of the season.

These teams have met only once this season, a 4-3 OT win for the Avalanche in Glendale on the 25th of November. The Coyotes jumped out to 3-0 first period lead before Gabriel Landeskog led the comeback with two goals and Daniel Briere won it in OT with a shot that deflected in of the stick of Martin Hanzal.

Keys to the Game

  • Special Teams. The Coyotes have the 5th best power play in the league and the 27th ranked penalty kill. The Avs are 30th and 11th respectively. The Coyotes do well when the power play connects and the kill stops the other side. The numbers favor them in this matchup, so they need to convert.
  • Get over it. It was a tough weekend for the desert dogs. Two tough losses that could have been wins. They need to put it out of their minds and just go to work tonight. Especially important for Tobias Rieder, who had a penalty shot to tie the game and didn't come through in the third period Saturday. It clearly affected his play for the rest of the period and he needs to move on and be better.
  • Catch your breath. Playing in Denver isn't easy. Arizona has actually had success in the thin air of the Mile High City, going 5-4-0 since Dave Tippett became head coach.

Who's Hot

The Coyotes have been led in recent games by the goaltending of Mike Smith. In the last five games, he has stopped 142 of 156 shots for a .910 sv % and a 2.80 gaa. That number is inflated because of the third period against the Rangers when everything fell apart in front of him and then goals literally fell down his back.

Colorado has been led by the ageless wonder Jarome Iginla. His 18 goals and 38 points lead the Avs and he has been hot recently with two goals and three assists in the past three games.

Injury Report

Arizona got Joe Vitale back against New York, but are still down Mikkel Boedker (spleen removal) and Martin Hanzal (back surgery). Alexandre Bolduc is questionable for the game tonight with an abdominal injury.

The Avs are without All Star blueliner Erik Johnson (knee) for a few more weeks and Patrick Bordeleau won't be back for a more weeks with a fractured kneecap. Borna Rendulic is out with a broken leg and Jesse Winchester is still out with post concussion symptoms. Jamie McGinn (back) and Ryan Wilson (shoulder) are both done for the season after undergoing surgery.

Puck Drop

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on 98.7 AZ Sports FM.