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GDT Game 29: Coyote embark on a four-game road trip against Blue Jackets

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The Arizona Coyotes face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of a four-game road trip.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview

Things started so well for the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. They scored twice in the first 2:12 of the first period and looked like they were going to coast to an easy win. But unfortunatel,y things would go downhill from there.

Both Nick Schmaltz and Derek Stepan got their fifth goal of the season at even strength in the early minutes of the first period. Schmaltz has generated a lot of offense this season, but most of it has come from assists, and Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland had assists in the goal. Stepan has never been a big scorer, and with Clayton Keller getting the assist he is currently 3rd on the team in assists and tied for second in points.

Special teams were the killer for the Coyotes on Saturday. The penalty kill was perfect in the one time they took the ice, but things weren’t as good on the power play. While the Coyotes were down 3-2 in the third period they had three power plays, and the results weren’t great.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have not been good to start this season. They are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and if not for the New Jersey Devils they would be at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

It isn’t too surprising that the Blue Jackets are struggling this season. They lost their star goaltender and goal scorer this past offseason, which tends to hurt your odds of success.

The effect on their goaltending isn’t as noticeable, which may not be too surprising given how Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled to start the season. They are currently 12th in goals against in Joonas Korpisalo’s first year as a starter after finishing 11th in goals against last season.

Things are a lot different when it comes to offense. Artemi Panarin was second in goals scored for the Blue Jackets and he is currently playing with the New York Rangers. Cam Atkinson, who had a career-high 41 goals last season, is struggling with 4 goals in 26 games.

That’s not to say they don’t have any offensive threats. Pierre-Luc Dubois is on pace for another 20+ goal season, and Gustav Nyquist is finding success in his first season with 7 goals in 26 games.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Christian Dvorak - Dvorak had an assist night, giving him 4 points in his past 3 games.

Columbus: Gustav Nyquist - The Blue Jackets were shut out their last game, but in the game the night before Nyquist had a hat trick. Nyquist signed as a free agent in Columbus and is earning his four-year, $22 million deal.

Injuries

Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)

Columbus: Zach Werenski (shoulder), Kole Sherwood (oblique), Markus Nutivaara (upper body), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.