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Game #30 Preview: Arizona at Philadelphia

The Coyotes vie for first place in the Pacific, their 10th road win; the Flyers have not lost in regulation at home since October 19

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #30: ARIZONA (16-9-4) at PHILADELPHIA (16-7-5)

5:00 PM MST - Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Kyle Rehman #10, Jon McIsaac #2

Linesmen: Brandon Gawryletz #64, Derek Nansen #70

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ARIZONA AT PHILADELPHIA

The Coyotes continue their four-game road trip tonight, opening a back-to-back set in Pennsylvania as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center, marking the first of the teams' two scheduled meetings this season.

Philadelphia will visit Gila River Arena on January 4 to close out the season series.

"They're playing fast, but I think they're the number one faceoff team, they're in the dot as good as any team." Head coach Rick Tocchet said of the Flyers Thursday morning. "I'm not sure exactly, it seems higher every time I hear, 55 or 60 percent, but if you're getting six or seven, or even three of four extra possessions in your own end, that means a lot over 82 games. I think they're the best faceoff team in the league."

The Flyers' 54.1 FO% is in fact tops in the NHL. Claude Giroux leads all players with a 60.9 win percentage while Christian Dvorak is ranked second in the league with a 59.9 win percentage.

The Coyotes are coming off of a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

The Flyers are coming off of a 6-1 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday to extend their win streak to five games. Philadelphia has won six of its past seven games and comes into the night with a 9-1-4 home record. The Pittsburgh Penguins, tomorrow night's opponent, are 11-3-2 at home. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have a combined 20-4-6 record as hosts this year.

"Well they're both stellar teams in the sense that they have high-end talent and they have young players playing big roles for them," Tocchet said of the Coyotes' two Pennsylvania opponents. "It's always tough to play in Pennsylvania when you play Philly and Pittsburgh. It's a tough back-to-back, they're both playing excellent hockey this year, so this is a big test for us."

Darcy Kuemper will make his 20th start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed following the team's morning skate. No other lineup changes are expected to be made to the alignment the Coyotes skated with Tuesday in Columbus. Brian Elliott will start for the Flyers.

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THREE THINGS

FOR FIRST: A path has been cleared for another shot at first place following the Ottawa Senators' 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The Coyotes sit just one point behind the first place Oilers, who are idle this evening. With a win of any kind, Arizona will claim the top spot in the Pacific Division for the first time this season. Should the Coyotes earn a point through an overtime or shootout loss, they will remain in second place despite matching the Oilers' 37-point total.

TOUGH IN PHILLY: The Flyers come into the night with a 9-1-4 record on home ice this season and are one of just three teams in the league to have posted one or fewer regulation losses as hosts this year (MIN - 1, BOS - 0). The Coyotes, on the other hand, enter the night with the third best road record in the NHL, having gone 9-3-3 away from Gila River Arena. Arizona has earned points in nine of its last 10 road games (7-1-2).

DOMINANT DARCY: Darcy Kuemper enters the night leading the NHL in GAA (1.97) and SV% (.936) and his put forth seventh consecutive 30-plus save performances following his 33-save showing Tuesday night in Columbus. He ranks in the top 10 in saves made among qualified goaltenders with 553. Kuemper's two shutouts this season are tied for the second most in the league.

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LAST TIME AROUND

NOVEMBER 8, 2018 - ARIZONA (4) at PHILADELPHIA (5) F/OT

The Coyotes rattled off four straight goals after the Flyers opened the game with two of their own in the game's first five minutes, but were unable to hold their renewed lead in the third period, ultimately falling 5-4 in overtime in the teams' previous meeting on November 8 of last season at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson , Brad Richardson , Derek Stepan , and Michael Grabner scored for the Coyotes; Darcy Kuemper stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced.

Arizona finished with a 0-1-1 record against Philadelphia last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

THIRTY-THREE AND THREE HUNDRED (33 & 300)

Three's wild for Derek Stepan, who enters the night with 33 points (10G, 23A) in 37 career games against the Philadelphia Flyers, his highest point total against any opponent.

Stepan scored in the Coyotes' previous visit to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

His next assist will be the 300th of his NHL career.

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QUICK HITS

  • Christian Dvorak currently has a four-game point streak (2G, 3A), tying his career high.
  • The Flyers have not lost in regulation at home since October 19.
  • Claude Giroux has 17 points (7G, 10A) in 16 career games against the Coyotes.
  • Philadelphia's penalty kill (85.9%) ranks third in the NHL.
  • Phil Kessel has 31 points (9G, 22A) in 47 career games against the Flyers.
  • The Coyotes (6) and Flyers (8) are atop the NHL in shootout GP this season.
  • Arizona owns a 31-44-2-4 all-time record against Philadelphia.

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Lead Photo Credit: Len Redkoles - Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Len Redkoles - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: NBC Sports Philadelphia

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