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GDT Game 48: Coyotes look to turn things around at home

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After getting shut out their last to games, the Arizona Coyotes look to turn things around at home.

NHL: DEC 06 Coyotes at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes have a big problem. For the first time this season, they have been shut out two games in a row. Fans have gotten used to the Coyotes not having the best offense, but two straight games is something else. But it’s important to remember that before they were shut out they had a four-game win streak.

Arizona seemed to play better against the Carolina Hurricanes compared to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had a big third period which featured them outshooting the Hurricanes 7-1. At that point the Hurricanes already had a 3-0 lead, so the shot definitely fits.

Unfortunately, the loss may also come with the loss of goaltender Antti Raanta. Raanta was only able to play a part of the game after sustaining a lower-body injury . . . again. Given the timeline, it seems entirely possible that Raanta wasn’t fully recovered and he may have re-tweaked his injury.

With the Coyotes being shutout their previous two games, the team is going to be looking for anyone to score. Whether it be their offensive threats like Clayton Keller, Conor Garland, or Taylor Hall, or less offensive players like Brad Richardson or Vinnie Hinostroza, someone needs to get the first goal. And hopefully once that happens, the team will relax and the goals will come again.

With the loss, the Arizona Coyotes dropped below the Vegas Golden Knights, but that didn’t last long. The Golden Knights lost 3-0 last night, dropping them below the Coyotes, but the Calgary Flames have leapfrogged the Coyotes and Golden Knights. With the Pacific Division being as tight as they are the Coyotes don’t have the luxury of a lengthy losing streak.

When a team’s star player goes down with an injury, the team in front of them can understandably struggle. But while the Pittsburgh Penguins are without forward Sidney Crosby, they don’t seem to be having many issues.

Pittsburgh is currently finishing up their own three-game road trip, although they are finding more success than the Coyotes did on theirs. They won two of their three games, beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 and topping the Colorado Avalanche in the shootout.

The Penguins are currently the second team in the Metropolitan Division behind only the Washington Capitals. Washington will be tough to top, but with the New York Islanders only a point behind the Penguins they don’t have a lot of breathing room.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Taylor Hall - The Coyotes are going to need someone to step up and have a big game tonight. Hall is two seasons away from being the league MVP with the New Jersey Devils, and he may be the guy to do it.

Pittsburgh: Bryan Rust - Rust had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ last game and has twelve points in his last eight games. He has already matched his career-high goals this season with 18 and he is one point away from matching his career-high points.

Injuries

Arizona: Antti Raanta (questionable, lower body), Barrett Hayton (shoulder), Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)

Pittsburgh: Casey DeSmith (questionable, passport issues), Jake Guentzel (shoulder), Justin Schultz (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (ankle), Nick Bjugstad (abdominal), Sidney Crosby (questionable, hernia)

Puck Drop

Today’s game will be at 4:00 pm and will air on ESPN+, Fox Sports Arizona Plus, and Fox Sports 910 AM.