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Coyotes Game 35 Preview: Coyotes face Avalanche in first game of back-to-back

The Arizona Coyotes will be heading back on the road as they face off against the Colorado Avalanche for the first of two back-to-back games.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are heading back on the road after going 2-2-0 in their four-game homestand. Tonight, Arizona heads into Colorado with a bit of momentum after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1.

It wasn’t the first time that the Coyotes have relied on rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Veggie faced a lot of rubber, and for the third time this season, he faced over 45 shots.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, things won’t get any easier this weekend. Tonight will be the first game of a back-to-back home-and-home, with both teams heading back to Arizona for tomorrow’s matchup.

Arizona managed to beat the Maple Leafs thanks to some phenomenal goaltending and some timely offense from Ryan Dzingel. But they also did a good job staying disciplined and keeping the Leafs from getting too many chances with the man advantage.

The Coyotes are one of the most penalized teams in the NHL, so it was a surprise to see them only have to kill two Maple Leafs’ power plays. They will want to keep that up because they face very tough competition tonight as well.

The Colorado Avalanche are one of the top teams in the Central Division and are only three points behind the top-ranked Nashville Predators despite having played five fewer games. Since play resumed, they are on a six-game point streak and lost only one game, an overtime loss to the Predators in the second game of a back-to-back.

Despite the winning record, Colorado’s games did tend to be pretty close. Other than a 7-1 blowout win over the Winnipeg Jets, the Avalanche went to overtime three times. And the quality of their competition has been a bit mixed, they beat the Ducks by two and walked away with an overtime win against the Leafs, but they only beat the Seattle Kraken by one and were taken to overtime by the Chicago Blackhawks.

This season has been a bit rough for the Avalanche, who have missed many of their key players for extended lengths of time. No offense to Nazem Kadri, who leads the team with an impressive 48 points in 30 games, but you don’t expect to see him on top of a team with Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Cale Makar.

Coyotes fans may see a familiar face as this will be the first time that the Coyotes face Darcy Kuemper since the team sent him to the Avalanche for a 2022 first-round pick, Conor Timmins, and a conditional third. Unfortunately, the other piece of that trade, Timmins, will not be available tonight as he hasn’t played since sustaining a knee injury at the end of last October.

Either way, the Coyotes still shouldn’t take any chances. Tonight’s match will be the first time these two teams have met this season, but it wasn’t too long ago that the Coyotes were getting bounced from the bubble by the Avalanche in what would be the first sign of the eventual rebuild.

Players To Watch

Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller was selected to represent the Coyotes at the NHL All-Star Game for a good reason. He currently leads the Coyotes with 12 goals and 26 points.

Colorado: Cale Makar - Makar had a goal and two assists in the Avalanches’ last game and was also selected to represent his team at the NHL All-Star Game. He currently leads all NHL defensemen with 16 goals.

Injuries

Arizona: Scott Wedgewood (COVID-19 protocol), Cam Dineen (COVID-19 protocol), Anton Strålman (COVID-19 protocol), Kyle Capobianco (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Colorado: Bowen Byram (questionable, head), Darren Helm (questionable, lower body), Gabriel Landeskog (COVID-19 protocol), Jacob MacDonald (upper body), Stefan Matteau (leg)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be in Colorado and starts at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona+ and on 620 AM.