The Colorado Avalanche visits the Arizona Coyotes for the first matchup of a four-game road trip on Friday at Gila River Arena. It is the first meeting between the clubs this season and the first contest of a two-game set.
The Avs are coming off a 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, moving to 9-6-1 on the season and losing two straight for the first time this year. The club got within one goal early in the third period after Nazem Kadri tallied his third power-play marker of the campaign but couldn't find the tying goal. J.T. Compher registered his second goal of the season while netminder Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves.
Arizona has rallied back from three-goal deficits in two straight games versus the Anaheim Ducks, defeating Anaheim 4-3 on Monday and 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday. Tyler Pitlick, Jakob Chychrun and Phil Kessel combined for the three goals to tie the contest. Christian Dvorak scored the deciding goal in the shootout, while Oliver Ekman Larsson (two assists) and Conor Garland (two assists) added multi-point showings. Goaltender Adin Hill entered the game in relief for Darcy Kuemper in the final frame, stopping 14-of-14 shots.
Friday's matchup is the first game of a back-to-back, the third of such sets for Colorado this season. It is also the first contest the Avalanche will skate in front of fans this year, as the Coyotes have allowed a maximum of 3,450 fans at home games thus far.
Avalanche at Arizona Coyotes
Gila River Arena | Glendale, Ariz.
Colorado netminder Hunter Miska was a part of the Coyotes organization from 2017-2019… Arizona's Derick Brassard finished the 2018-19 season with the Avalanche… Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet was an assistant coach for Colorado from 2002-2004.
The Avs face off against the Coyotes for the first time since their Round 1 matchup in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Avalanche defeated Arizona in five outings. During the regular season, the clubs split the two-game season series with both teams winning on home ice. Andre Burakovsky (one goal, one assist) and Cale Makar (two assists) led the squad in scoring during the regular season set while Nathan MacKinnon had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the playoff series.
Colorado sports a 47-30-10 all-time record against the Coyotes (since 1995-96), including a 23-17-4 mark on the road. The Avalanche will face off against the Coyotes as division foes for the first time in franchise history.
Brandon Saad missed Wednesday's contest due to personal reasons but was expected to travel with the team to Arizona. Colorado did not practice on Thursday, so its lineup likely won't be known until after morning skate, but the team did recall goaltender Hunter Miska from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles before making the journey.
Pavel Francouz (lower body), Erik Johnson (upper body) and Dennis Gilbert (upper body) are all out long term with injuries.
SCOUTING THE COYOTES
Arizona has made history over the past two games, becoming the second team all time to erase three-goal deficits and win in consecutive meetings against the same team (Quebec Nordiques in 1983). Through 19 games this season, the Coyotes (9-7-3) sit in fourth place in the West Division with 21 points, two ahead of the Avs (19 points). Conor Garland (seven goals, 11 assists) and Christian Dvorak (nine goals, six assists) lead the squad in offensive production.
When hosting the Avs, the Coyotes hold an all-time 19-18-7 record, with a 4-4-2 mark in the last 10 at Gila River Arena. This season, Arizona has accrued the fifth most points (tied) at home in the league with 15 (6-4-3) and is tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks for the most games played at home, skating at Gila River Arena in 13 contests.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: PHIL KESSEL
The two-time Stanley Cup Champion is in his 15th NHL season and second campaign with Arizona, compiling 378 goals and 497 assists in 1,085 contests. Kessel has played the most games in the NHL on the Coyotes' roster, skating in 198 more matchups than Alex Goligoski, who ranks second on the team with 887 career games. The forward has tallied seven goals and seven assists in 19 contests this season, tied the third most points on Arizona. Kessel is also tied for the second most power-play points on the club with six (one goal, five assist).
Against the Avs, the forward has recorded eleven markers and six assists in 18 career meetings, including one goal and one helper in an Arizona sweater.
The Avalanche tallied its 15th power-play goal of the season on Wednesday, ranking tied for 10th in the league with the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The man-advantage goal improved the clubs power-play percentage to 23.1 percent, which is the 12th best in the league.
Cale Makar collected his 50th career regular-season assist on Wednesday, reaching the milestone in 71 games. It is the fifth-fewest contests needed by an NHL defenseman to register 50 assists.
Andre Burakovsky is set to skate in his 400th career NHL game on Friday. The forward has compiled 85 goals and 113 assists in seven seasons with the Avs and Washington Capitals.
The Avs own a 4-3-1 record on the road this campaign… Friday's game is the first of a back-to-back set. Colorado is currently scheduled for eight such sets this season, including another one when the Avalanche visits the Coyotes again on March22-23… In the first matchup of back-to-back contests this season, the club boasts a 2-0-0 mark… Cale Makar's 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 14 games gives the defenseman .93 points per game, which is tied for the third-highest among defenseman (min. 5 games played)… The Avalanche owns the best penalty-killing unit in the league, extinguishing 88.7 percent of its shorthanded situations… Beginning with Friday's contest, Colorado will play six games in nine days, 15 games in 26 days (through March 23) and 26 games in 46 days (through April 12).