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Arizona Coyotes begin home-and-home with Carolina Hurricanes

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Perhaps they can carpool between cities?

Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes finished their season series with the Buffalo Sabres in less than a week. Their season series against the Carolina Hurricanes will make the Sabres series feel like it dragged on.

Tonight Arizona visits the Hurricanes in Raleigh for the only time this season before returning to Glendale to play the Hurricanes again on Sunday night. This will be the second game in as many nights for the Coyotes, who just came off a 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

View from Arizona

Last night’s 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres was deflating, given how the Coyotes largely weathered the storm in the first two periods to tie the score midway through the third. It wasn’t a great defensive performance by any stretch of the imagination, but up until a particularly brutal turnover in the neutral zone, it looked like it might be good enough to grind out a standings point.

Instead, Arizona comes to Carolina having surrendered ten goals in its last two games. The Coyotes also conceded two power play goals and a shorthanded goal to the Sabres last night in a sign that their special teams are still struggling mightily to give the Coyotes an edge.

View from Carolina

For more on the Carolina Hurricanes, check out Canes Country

While the Hurricanes sit tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, there are quite a few things to like about what Carolina has done over the past couple of years. They have a bright young group of players led by Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin, and Victor Rask, and their 51.5 5v5 CF% is tied for 10th in the league. That is a decent foundation to build upon.

The problem for the Hurricanes this year - as it has been for several years now - is the team’s goaltending. Both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack are signed through next season, but neither has played particularly well. Ward has not finished a season with a save percentage above .910 since 2012, while Lack has a dreadful .873 save percentage in 10 appearances this year.

Carolina is likely going to get some additional help this summer. They currently hold a ridiculous seven picks in the first three rounds of this year’s Draft, and if they could sort their goaltending issues out, the Hurricanes could likely be competitive in the Eastern Conference despite spending less this year than any other team in the NHL.

Three Questions

  1. Can the Coyotes exploit another favorable goaltending matchup? - Robin Lehner was not especially great last night for Buffalo, with 19 saves on 22 shots. Neither Carolina goaltender is having a great year, so can the Coyotes capitalize?
  2. Will Louis Domingue turn in another decent performance? - In his last three games, Domingue has stopped 74 of 81 shots. How will he fare against the 23rd ranked offense in the league?
  3. Can the Coyotes avoid the injury bug? - Arizona lost Alexander Burmistrov in Boston. They then lost Kevin Connauton in Buffalo. Can they keep everyone else healthy tonight?

Players to Watch

Arizona - Alex Goligoski - Goligoski did not provide the hoped for spark on the defensive end when he signed with the Coyotes this summer, but he has stepped up his game recently. He has a goal and three assists in his last five games, and is now just 11 points off his total from last year with 19 more games to play.

Carolina - Sebastian Aho - The thrilling Calder Trophy race between Patrik Laine, Mitchell Marner, and Auston Matthews has stolen the spotlight away from other rookies like Sebastian Aho. Aho has 18 goals and 17 assists in 60 games this season after he was selected 35th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Injury Report

Alexander Burmistrov has been ruled out for the rest of the road trip, while Kevin Connauton’s status is uncertain after he left last night’s game in the third period due to injury. Brad Richardson is still on injured reserve, but has been skating and accompanied the team on the road trip.

Carolina’s Brock McGinn is considered questionable for tonight’s game, while Jeff Skinner is listed as probable.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game begins at 5:30 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.