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Coyotes Game 52 Preview: Coyotes face Golden Knights in a battle of the desert

The Arizona Coyotes are back in action tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

Things aren’t getting any easier for the Arizona Coyotes. After falling 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, they will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights as their homestand continues.

Arizona played well enough to keep things tight against the Kings, but they never really had control of the game. Their best period was probably their second, a rare feat for the Coyotes, but outside of that, they relied on solid goaltending to stay competitive.

The Coyotes did do some things right against the Kings, and they are signs of overall improvement. The fact that they didn’t collapse after giving up two goals in a minute in the second was an improvement, and they went into the third period with a tie game.

Arizona also did a great job at staying out of the box, and the Kings only had two power plays. Liam O’Brien did end up getting a 10-minute misconduct call, but thankfully, the Kings didn’t get a power play out of it.

However, Arizona doesn’t need to be less physical to stay out of the box. After missing Wednesday’s game against the Kings, it looks like Nick Ritchie will be eligible to play tonight.

The Desert Dogs will need to find a way to play a full sixty minutes. If they can do that, they may have a shot tonight. They need to stop taking full periods off, especially the third period.

Vegas is an unusual team this season. This is probably their worst season in their short existence, but they are staying in there thanks to an extremely weak Pacific Division.

That doesn’t mean the Coyotes should go in unprepared or expecting an easy game. Even if the Golden Knights are an average team, the Yotes are still below average.

And the Golden Knights are pretty average this season. They are 13th in goals scored 16th in goals allowed. Their power play is 21st in the league, but their penalty kill is 16th. This is a middle-of-the-pack team for the Golden Knights, who were expected to dominate the division this season.

The Golden Knights have had a relatively easy February, with plenty of time off. They haven’t played since Sunday when they beat the San Jose Sharks, ending a three-game losing streak for the Golden Knights.

Vegas decided to add another big piece this season, acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres and allowing him to get his preferred neck surgery. Eichel has played in three games since returning from injury and has a goal and two assists in that time.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Clayton Keller - After recording a goal against the Kings, Clayton Keller’s point streak has extended to five games, and his goal streak is at four. The Coyotes haven’t gotten a lot of offense this season, but a lot of it came from Keller.

Vegas: Max Pacioretty - Pacioretty has 15 goals on the season, including three goals and an assist in his last two games.

Injuries

Arizona: Andrew Ladd (lower body), Johan Larsson (hernia), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Vegas: Nolan Patrick (questionable, head), Robin Lehner (questionable, upper body), Mark Stone (back), Zach Whitecloud (foot), Alec Martinez (face)

Puck Drop

Puck drops tonight at 7:30 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and 620 AM.