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GDT Game 32: Coyotes look to end road trip on a high note

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The Arizona Coyotes fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but have a chance to retake first in the Pacific Division with a win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

NHL: MAR 26 Blackhawks at Coyotes Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Preview

The streak had to come to an end sooner or later. The Arizona Coyotes faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day after a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers and were unable to get another two points. The loss moves the Coyotes down to the second spot in the Pacific, but they are still very much in the race for the top.

Friday was an extremely low-scoring affair. The first goal of the game came at 7:13 into the third period when Evgeni Malkin got his seventh of the season. The Penguins may be an injured team, but Malkin is still Malkin so it’s not too surprising that he got the opening tally.

The Coyotes’ power play could have made a difference, but it was again held scoreless. After getting goals in their last two games, they were again unable to convert. Despite having five opportunities (one was for only 13 seconds), they were unable to convert once against the 13th best penalty kill and were shut out.

Tonight’s opponent will be a return home for a lot of players. The Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks have been willing trading partners the past few seasons, and many players at one time suited up for Chicago. You can bet that Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle, and Nick Schmaltz are going to want to have big games against the team that let them go.

The Chicago Blackhawks have had an extremely poor start for the season. They are currently at the bottom of the Central Division and they likely won’t be coming up anytime soon.

In their past five games, Chicago has a record of 2-3-0, with both their wins coming either in overtime or the shootout. And while their losses came against top teams like the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues, and they took the Boston Bruins to overtime, they had to go to the shootout to beat the New Jersey Devils.

But while the Blackhawks boast a terrible record, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Patrick Kane is still one of the best players in the league, and he leads the team in both goals (14) and assists (21). They also have been getting great goaltender with newcomer Robin Lehner.

Lehner was a big part of the New York Islanders last season and won the William M. Jennings Trophy and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Lehner has been splitting time with long-time goaltender Corey Crawford, and in 15 games he has a 2.71 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - It is hard to overstate how much Schmaltz has meant to the Coyotes since being acquired from Chicago. He leads the team in assists and points and has been a major part of the Coyotes’ offense.

Chicago: Dylan Strome - Strome has found his footing in Chicago and is doing well in his role. He has as many points and Schmaltz and has a goal and two assists in his past two games.

Injuries

Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)

Chicago: Olli Maatta (questionable, flu), Andrew Shaw (concussion), Duncan Keith (groin), Drake Caggiula (concussion)

Puck Drop

Today’s game will be in Chicago and will air at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on ESPN+, Fox Sports Arizona, and Fox Sports 910 AM.