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Coyotes Game 44 Preview: Coyotes face Avalanche in first game of a back-to-back

The Arizona Coyotes look to end a five game losing streak tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game Preview

Two weeks ago, the Arizona Coyotes were on the second win streak of the season after beating the Montréal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, they responded to that by dropping their next five games, and it’s likely the losing streak will continue tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

If the Coyotes are going to win tonight, they will need to find a way to score and stay out of the box. The two things are very related because it’s tough to score when you are down a man.

The Coyotes have given up at least one power play goal in each of their last four games. Four of the six goals were in the second period, which is one of the reasons we have seen the return of the second-period collapse.

But even when they aren’t giving up power play goals, they are still hurting their offense by taking penalties. The Coyotes have only scored twice short-handed this season, so all that time in the box is time when they aren’t scoring goals.

As the calendar flips to February, things won’t get much easier for the Desert Dogs. Tonight will be the first game of another back-to-back, and they have another one next week. Luckily the flight back from Denver won’t be too long for tomorrow’s game.

Colorado hosted the Sabres on Sunday, and the Avalanche handily beat them 4-1. It was the tenth straight win for the Avalanche, who currently have a nine-point lead on the Central Division.

Last month’s back-to-back wins against the Coyotes started a huge win streak for the Avalanche. Although admittedly, it wasn’t the most challenging win-streak, they got to play the Coyotes twice, the Chicago Blackhawks twice, the Montréal Canadiens once, and the previously mentioned win over the Sabres. However, they still managed to win the games.

Just when it looked like the Avalanche were starting to get healthy, they have suffered another setback. Nathan MacKinnon is out with a concussion and facial fracture after a hit from Taylor Hall last Wednesday when the Avalanche played the Bruins. However, the Avalanche still have plenty of offensive weapons, so it’s not like they will be coming into tonight’s game empty-handed.

PHNX’s Craig Morgan tweeted that the plan for goaltending for this back-to-back is Scott Wedgewood getting the start tonight and Karel Vejmelka playing tomorrow against the Calgary Flames. Wedgewood looked good against the Boston Bruins, making 35 saves on 37 shots. He did everything needed to keep the Coyotes in the game, only to see his team get outshot 16-9 in the final period.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Clayton Keller - The Coyotes haven’t been scoring much lately, but Keller has been involved on the goals. He comes into tonight’s game with two goals and three assists in his last four games.

Colorado: Cale Makar - Makar has two goals and four assists in his past four games and had assists in both games against the Arizona Coyotes. He is one of the most dynamic defensemen in the NHL and always seems to make the Coyotes pay.

Injuries

Arizona: Johan Larsson (lower body), Dysin Mayo (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Colorado: Ryan Murray (probable, upper body), Nathan MacKinnon (face), Bowen Byram (head), Darren Helm (lower body), Jason MacDonald (upper body), Stefan Matteau (leg)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be in Denver and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and on 620 AM.