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Game #29 Preview: Arizona at Columbus

Darcy Kuemper gets the call and Jakob Chychrun readies for his 200th game as Coyotes begin Midwest road trip

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #29: ARIZONA (15-9-4) at COLUMBUS (11-11-4)

5:00 PM MST - Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Kevin Pollock #33, Ghislain Hebert #22

Linesmen: Kory Nagy #97, James Tobias #61

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ARIZONA AT COLUMBUS

The Coyotes begin a four-game road trip tonight as they match-up against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, marking the final of the team's two scheduled meetings this season.

Their current trip will call for 4,182 travel miles, as detailed by Fox Sports Arizona, spanning four games in six nights in Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.

The Coyotes are coming off of a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night, a loss that snapped the team's nine-game point streak against Pacific Division opponents.

Arizona has now dropped consecutive games for the third time this season; 0-1-1 in its previous two contests, the club went 0-2-0 to begin the season and went 0-2-1 during a span of three games from November 5-9, a stretch that included a 3-2 loss to Columbus.

"This is the time where teams start to separate themselves, it gets harder around Christmas time, right?" head coach Rick Tocchet said following the team's optional morning skate. "The gap has tightened now, you can't go through those long losing streaks. I always feel around this time of year is when you really need players to dig in, nose over the puck, winning the board battles, you really need your structure and the details of your game to help you win games."

The Blue Jackets are coming off of a 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday. They begin a two-game home stand tonight; they are 8-6-1 as hosts this season and 4-1-0 in their past five games at Nationwide Arena.

First goal factor? The Blue Jackets are 0-8-3 this season when allowing the first goal of a game; the Coyotes are 9-2-1 when striking first.

Darcy Kuemper will make his 19th start of the season tonight while Joonas Korpisalo gets the nod for the Blue Jackets. No other lineup changes are anticipated from the alignment the team used on Saturday against San Jose.

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THREE THINGS

CLOSE CALLS: The Blue Jackets have played in a league-high 17 one-goal games this season and have had the upper-hand in those contests, posting a 9-4-4 record. The Coyotes are right behind, having played in 16 one-goal games this year. Arizona is 7-5-4 in such games.

DROPPING IN: The Coyotes are touting an 8-3-3 road record this season, earning points in 11 of their 14 games as visitors and in eight of their last nine (6-1-2) played away from Gila River Arena. No other team in the Western Conference has dropped fewer games in regulation on the road than the Coyotes. "I think we stay with the program a little longer than we do at home," Tocchet said. "On the road it seems that if things go a little sideways we're good at regaining our structure and our identity."

TRACK RECORDS: Phil Kessel and Derek Stepan , both former members of Metropolitan Division clubs, each have incredibly fine track records when it comes to producing against the Blue Jackets, scoring at just under a point-per-game pace. Kessel has 27 points (13G, 14A) in 28 career games against Columbus, while Stepan has 22 points (7G, 15A) in 23 career games. Stepan's next assist will be the 300th of his NHL career.

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LAST TIME AROUND

NOVEMBER 7, 2019 - ARIZONA (2) vs. COLUMBUS (3)

The Coyotes came up short in the teams' previous meeting on November 7 at Gila River Arena, falling by a 3-2 score as the Blue Jackets snapped a five game losing streak (0-4-1).

Carl Soderberg tied the game, 1-1, after the Blue Jackets took an early lead, and Jakob Chychrun gave the Coyotes their first lead of the game, 2-1, with eight minutes left to play in the second period.

Columbus would tack on two unanswered goals, including the eventual game-winner from Oliver Bjorkstrand with 9:48 remaining in regulation.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the loss.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

ONE (1)

Top of the charts.

Darcy Kuemper enters the night ranked first among qualified goaltenders in goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.935).

He has made 30-plus saves in 10 of his 18 starts this season, including his start against tonight's opponent, Columbus, in early November. He has hit or eclipsed the 30-save mark in each of his previous six starts.

Kuemper enters the night with a 10-6-2 record, having made a total of 520 saves.

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QUICK HITS

  • Jakob Chychrun will play in his 200th NHL game tonight.
  • The Coyotes are 9-1-1 this season when Carl Soderberg registers a point.
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois leads the Blue Jackets in goals (10) and is tied for the team lead in points (18).
  • Christian Fischer registered his first-career hat trick in the Coyotes' previous visit to Columbus on October 23, 2018.
  • The Coyotes have 11 players with 10 or more points this season.
  • Michael Chaput registered eight points (2G, 6A) in 58 games with the Blue Jackets over parts of three seasons from 2013-16.
  • Arizona owns a 29-24-4-3 all-time record against Columbus.

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Lead Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau - Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Adam Lacy - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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