The Arizona Coyotes had a golden opportunity last night against the Vegas Golden Knights. They had a chance to move up the standings against a division rival and but some space between them and the glut of teams climbing the Pacific Division. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way, and the Coyotes lost 4-1.
Arizona wasn’t able to do much right last night. The penalty kill allowed Vegas to score twice on the power play in their three opportunities. The power play was held scoreless despite having five opportunities, including an early four-minute opportunity when Ryan Reaves was assessed a double minor for high sticking. The Coyotes were also outshot every period of the game.
While the team in front of him didn’t give him much help, the Coyotes are going to need more from goaltender Antti Raanta. Raanta was pulled early in the second after allowing four goals in sixteen shots. With Darcy Kuemper sidelined with a lower-body injury the team is going to be relying on Raanta to take the role of the starter as opposed to being half of a tandem.
Despite the tough loss, the Coyotes are still very much in the thick of the playoff hunt. They are second in the Pacific and are only two points behind Vegas and have played two fewer games. But the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers are all within two points of Arizona so they can’t afford to go on a long losing streak.
Before the Christmas break, the Stars were having some issues. The two games before the break they lost 7-4 to the Florida Panthers and 5-1 to the Calgary Flames. But while the Coyotes were getting destroyed by the Golden Knights last night, the Stars were beating the Avalanche 3-2 in the shootout.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - Garland was key to setting up the Coyotes’ lone goal of the last game, giving him his first point since December 8th against Chicago. Garland leads the team in goals and the Coyotes will need him to continue to generate offense through the second half of the season.
Dallas: Tyler Seguin - Seguin has been a lightning rod for criticism in the past but he remains one of the Stars’ best players. He scored just of a minute into Dallas’ last game and he is the point leader for the Stars.
Arizona: Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Dallas: Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (head)
Tonight’s game in Arizona will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.