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Game #23 Preview: Arizona vs. Toronto

Darcy Kuemper makes his 15th start of the season as the Coyotes look to finish their home stand with a perfect record

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #23: ARIZONA (13-7-2) vs. TORONTO (9-10-4)

7:00 PM MST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, AZ

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

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

Referees: Francois St. Laurent #8, Frederick L'Ecuyer #17

Linesmen: Bryan Pancich #94, Pierre Racicot #65

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ARIZONA VS. TORONTO

The Coyotes play the final of a three-game home stand tonight as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Gila River Arena, marking the first of the teams' two scheduled meetings this season.

Arizona will visit Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on February 11.

With consecutive wins under their belt, the Coyotes will look to finish their home stand with a perfect record tonight against Toronto; they're coming off a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. They improved to 6-4-0 on home ice in the process.

"That's important in this league, you need to perform on home ice, you need to have a good record on home ice to be a successful team," Jakob Chychrun said following the team's optional morning skate. "That's been something we've been trying to do a better job of here, we need to keep it going."

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, dropping to 3-7-0 on the road this year, the second-worst mark in the league. Toronto also comes into the night having lost six-straight games (0-5-1).

"You just can't take teams that are struggling lightly, that's a team with star power that can break through at any moment," Chychrun added. "And obviously with a new head coach coming in they're going to be flying tonight. We need to be ready for it."

Tonight's game will be the first for new Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, who took duty on Wednesday after it was announced Mike Babcock had been fired.

Darcy Kuemper will make his 15th start of the season tonight, Rick Tocchet confirmed. Barrett Hayton will return to the Coyotes' lineup for the first time since November 7 to replace Michael Grabner , who is a little banged up.

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THREE THINGS

CONTRACT KICKS IN: With Barrett Hayton set to play in his 10th game of the season tonight, the first year of his entry-level contract will officially kick in. It doesn't come to much surprise, considering the training camp, preseason, and early start he's had this year. "It's that number that everyone kind of looks at, but for me it's just another game, nothing too crazy," he said following Thursday's optional morning skate. "In the back of your mind it's there a little bit, but I don't think it's quite as big for me [personally] as it is on paper." Hayton has four points (1G, 3A) through his first nine NHL games.

DEFENSIVE IDENTITY: With consecutive shutouts, the Coyotes are back to first in the NHL in goals-against, allowing a league-low 2.23 goals per game. They've surrendered a total of 49 through their first 22 games played, which is the second lowest total in the NHL to the New York Islanders' 46. The Islanders, however, have played three fewer games than the Coyotes. "It's a big credit to our goaltending," Jakob Chychrun said. "Our d-zone structure is something we take pride in, it's just a matter of staying mentally sharp with it, sticking with it."

POWER BOOST: The Coyotes, with two power play goals Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings, registered multiple goals on the man advantage for the third time this season. The Coyotes came into Monday's game in a 1-for-27 slump. They are 8-0-0 this season in games when they score at least one power play goal. The Toronto Maple Leafs' penalty kill comes into the night ranked 27th in the NHL with a 73.1% kill rate; their 64.7% kill rate on the road ranks second to last in the league. The Maple Leafs have allowed a power play goal in 16 of their 23 games played thus far.

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LAST TIME AROUND

February 16, 2019 - Arizona (2) vs. Toronto (0)

The Coyotes scored two goals in a three-minute window early in the second period to account for all of the game's offense in their previous meeting with the Maple Leafs, a 2-0 win on February 16 of last season at Gila River Arena.

Alex Galchenyuk netted the opening tally and Josh Archibald followed soon thereafter. Darcy Kuemper stopped all 22 shots he faced to earn the shutout.

Arizona finished with a 2-0-0 record against Toronto last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN (127)

With back-to-back shutouts, the Coyotes have not allowed a goal in their last 127:49 of play, dating back to the third period of their 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild last Thursday.

It is the first time in franchise history consecutive shutouts have been posted by two different goaltenders. Darcy Kuemper stopped all 37 shots on Saturday against the Calgary Flames; Antti Raanta stopped all 31 shots on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

As a team, the Coyotes have three shutouts this season; Kuemper has two (11/2 vs. COL, 11/16 vs. CGY) and Raanta one (11/18 vs. LAK).

The last time the Coyotes posted consecutive shutouts came during the tail-end of the 2011-12 season, when they blanked opponents in three-straight games on March 29, March 31, and April 3, 2012.

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QUICK HITS

  • Darcy Kuemper's 1.85 GAA ranks first in the NHL among qualified goaltenders.
  • The Coyotes will wear their Kachina third jerseys tonight; the first of two instances of the uniform being worn on a week night (12/12 vs. CHI) this season.
  • The AHL Tucson Roadrunners (12-4-0-0) and the Coyotes (13-7-2) have the best combined win percentage (.684) among all 31 North American pro hockey organizations.
  • Auston Matthews leads the Maple Leafs in goals (14) and points (27).
  • The Coyotes are 14-3-1 in their last 18 games against the Maple Leafs.
  • Phil Kessel registered 394 points (181G, 213A) in 446 career games with Toronto from 2009-15.
  • Arizona owns a 55-36-8-1 all-time record against Toronto.

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Lead Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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