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Coyotes Game 18 Preview: Coyotes continue homestand against the Ducks

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After two games against the Kings, the Coyotes continue to face California teams as the Ducks come to town.

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

After playing the St. Louis Blues seven straight games, the Arizona Coyotes had a chance to earn some points and move up the standings against the Los Angeles Kings. But the Coyotes managed only one point out of four, and they have temporarily dropped out of the playoff picture.

But the season is far from over, and the Coyotes need to forget those losses and focus on tonight’s opponent.

The Coyotes found success against the Blues when they took control of the game. They couldn’t do that against the Kings, but maybe they can do it tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim is at the bottom of the West Division, having played more games than most teams. The Ducks have played more games than any other team in the division other than the Blues.

That isn’t to say that the Ducks are an easy opponent. They may be riding a three-game losing streak, but before that, they beat the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. That was their third 1-0 win of the season, the other two coming against the Minnesota Wild and the Coyotes in their first matchup.

John Gibson was in net for all three of those 1-0 wins. The American goaltender is one of the best goalies in the NHL, and can easily steal wins for a bottom-feeder team. There is a tendency to look past bad teams, but the Coyotes have already seen you can’t overlook the Ducks when Gibson is in net.

But despite their great goaltending, Anaheim has had difficulties scoring. In their past four games, the Ducks have scored only four goals and only scoring twice in one game. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Ducks can’t score goals, but like the Coyotes they have consistency issues.

Tonight is set to be the NHL debut of prospect Trevor Zegras. The Bedford, NY native was drafted in 2019 and spent last season with Boston University where he finished with 36 points in 33 games. He made a big splash at this year's World Juniors, finishing with 18 points in 7 games, winning a gold medal, and several individual awards.

Special teams had an impact in the Coyotes’ last game. The Coyotes’ two goals came on the power play, and the Kings scored on the power play and short-handed.

This time, the Coyotes have a slight advantage in special teams. The Ducks power play is the second-worst in the league, with only the Detroit Red Wings converting fewer times.

But the teams are closer on the penalty kill. The Ducks have a slightly better penalty kill, ranked seventh compared to the Coyotes’ 8th. It makes a lot of sense when you consider that your goaltender is your best penalty killer.

The Coyotes need to have a big game tonight. Arizona is still in the thick of a playoff search, but they need all the points they can get.

Arizona is in an extremely inconsistent team, but they have shown how good they can be when they are on. They can score first and control the rest of the pace, or, they can come from behind and tie the game in the last second. But whatever it takes, they need a win tonight.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel hasn't been the most consistent player for the Arizona Coyotes, but he has goals in his last two games. The Coyotes need offense from everyone for success and Kessel is a big part of that.

Anaheim: Max Comtois - Comtois split his past two seasons with the Ducks and the San Diego Gulls in the AHL. IN 18 games this season he has already scored a career-high 7 goals and leads the Ducks in goals scored.

Injuries

Arizona: Antti Raanta (questionable, undisclosed)

Anaheim: Hampus Lindholm (questionable, lower body), Sonny Milano (upper body), Josh Manson (oblique)

Puck Drop

Tonight's game will be at Gila River Arena and will be at 7 pm Arizona time. It will be available on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.