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Game #12 Preview: Arizona vs. Montreal

The Coyotes open up a two-game home stand tonight against the Canadiens

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #12: ARIZONA (7-3-1) VS. MONTREAL (5-4-2)

7:00 PM PST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, Arizona

TV: Fox Sports Arizona Plus (Matt McConnell, Tyson Nash, Todd Walsh, Jody Jackson)

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis, Paul Bissonnette)

Referees: Pierre Lambert #37, Wes McCauley #4

Linesmen: Kiel Murchison #79, Vaughan Rody #73

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ARIZONA VS. MONTREAL

The Coyotes host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Gila River Arena as they open a two-game home stand. This marks the first of the teams' two scheduled meetings this season.

Arizona will travel to Montreal's Bell Centre for the second match-up on February 10.

Coming off a successful road trip in which they won three out of four games (3-1-0), most recent of which a 3-2 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, the Coyotes are now 7-1-1 in their last nine contests.

"Defending the puck, we've done a nice job all year," head coach Rick Tocchet said of the Coyotes' recipe for success of late. "We've had our moments, but it's been consistency. Our goaltending, we're getting great goaltending, we take pride in defending the puck and I think that really helps. We're getting consistent scoring from all four lines, everybody's chipped in."

The Canadiens open a three-game road trip this evening; they are coming off of a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Carey Price made 29 saves in the Canadiens' win over Torono; he is expected to start tonight.

"They're like Buffalo," Tocchet said of the Canadiens. "Great in transition, if you make any sort of turnover, they're gone, they're fast, you have to stay above them. They have balanced scoring, and Carey Price - he's up there as being the best goalie in the league, he's right there. They have a recipe."

Antti Raanta will make his fourth start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed following the morning skate.

Defenseman Jordan Oesterle participated in the Coyotes' morning skate and is said to be very close to returning to the lineup. Brad Richardson remains day-to-day; neither he or Oesterle will play tonight.

The Coyotes are expected to go with the same lineup, offensively and defensively, used Monday in Buffalo.

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THREE THINGS

THREE'S KEY: Three remains to be the Coyotes' magic number. Coupled with the team's continued contributions from defense and goaltending, the Coyotes have won every single game they've played when scoring three or more goals, posting a perfect 7-0-0 record. The Coyotes have been held to two goals or fewer in all four of their losses (0-3-1).

STAYING ON TOP: The Coyotes have out-scored their opponents by a 33-24 margin this season, a plus-nine goal differential, which ranks seventh in the NHL. Overall, the Coyotes have come out on top in all three periods this season; out-scoring opponents in the first period (+2), second period (+6) and third period (+1). They are only one of four teams (Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks) to have a positive goal differential in all three periods.

RAANTA'S FOURTH: Antti Raanta gets the nod tonight, his fourth start of the year. He has won each of his previous two starts and is still without a losing decision to his name. He has yet to allow more than three goals in any given start and posts a line that includes a 2-0-1 record with a 2.62 GAA and a .922 SV%.

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LAST TIME AROUND

January 23, 2019 - Arizona (1) at Montreal (2)

Despite out-shooting the Canadiens in the teams' previous meeting on January 23 of last season, the Coyotes came up short on the scoreboard in a 2-1 loss at Montreal's Bell Centre.

Conor Garland scored the Coyotes' lone goal, burying a back-door power play tally with 1:32 remaining in the second period after receiving a pass from now-Canadiens forward Nick Cousins.

Calvin Pickard stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced in what was his first start with the Coyotes. Arizona finished with a 0-2-0 record against the Canadiens last season, both 2-1 losses.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

THIRTEEN (13)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson has produced at a point-per-game pace in 13 career games against the Canadiens, registering a total of 13 (5G, 8A) against Montreal.

Ekman-Larsson, who has three points (1G, 2A) in his last two games and seven (2G, 5A) on the season, scored in Montreal's previous visit to Gila River Arena on December 20 of last season.

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QUICK HITS

  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson ranks second in the NHL with 30.1 shifts per game.
  • The Coyotes have allowed a league-low 24 goals this season, tied with the Boston Bruins for the best mark in the NHL.
  • The Coyotes are 6-4-1 in their last 11 games against the Canadiens.
  • Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher is playing in his 500th NHL game tonight.
  • There are three former Coyotes: Max Domi, Nick Cousins, and Jordan Weal on Montreal's active roster.

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