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Game #32 Preview: Arizona at Chicago

Coyotes look to wrap up road trip with a winning record while getting re-acclimated with the Central Division

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #32: ARIZONA (17-10-4) at CHICAGO (12-12-5)

5:00 PM MST - United Center | Chicago, IL

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Pierre Lambert #37, Dan O'Rourke #9

Linesmen: David Brisebois #96, Brandon Gawryletz #64

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ARIZONA AT CHICAGO

The Coyotes put the finishing touches on their four-game road trip tonight as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center, marking the first of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season.

This will serve as Arizona's lone regular season visit to Chicago. The teams will meet again in five days, Thursday, when the Blackhawks travel to Gila River Arena, which is where the season series finale will also take place on February 1.

Despite coming off of a 2-0 shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, head coach Rick Tocchet was extremely pleased with the Coyotes' play, sharing his hopes that the team can mirror its previous performance tonight, with a few goals, of course.

"If we can play the same way we did in Pittsburgh, I think that was our most complete game in a while in all facets, all of our zones were really good," said Tocchet. "It's hard to play that way all of the time, but I told the guys today, 'you've got to find that juice to play the same way'."

The Blackhawks are coming off of a 2-1 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday to finish their recent two-game road trip with a 2-0-0 record. Chicago is 7-7-2 on home ice this season and 1-4-0 in its past five games at United Center.

Darcy Kuemper will make his 21st start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed following the Coyotes' morning skate. There aren't any changes expected to be made to the lineup the team used Friday in Pittsburgh. Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal for the Blackhawks.

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THREE THINGS

FOR FORTY: With a win tonight, the Coyotes will reach the 40-point mark with the possibility of returning to first place in the Pacific Division hanging in the balance. The Edmonton Oilers beat the Los Angeles Kings on Friday to reclaim the top spot; they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight and have a one-point lead on the Coyotes. Arizona didn't reach the 40-point mark until January 10 last year, in what was their 43rd game of the season.

CENTRAL FOCUS: Following tonight's game, the Coyotes will have played every Central Division team other than the Dallas Stars, who they'll see at the tail-end of December. Arizona has earned points in five of its seven games played against teams from the Central this season, posting a 4-2-1 record. Six of the Coyotes' 11 remaining games during the month of December will come against Central Division teams.

ONE FOR THE ROAD: Following tonight's game, the Coyotes will play eight of their ensuing 12 games on home ice at Gila River Arena. First, however, the team will look to finish their current four-game road trip with a winning record. 2-1-0 on the trip thus far, the Coyotes are 10-4-3 as visitors this season, racking up 23 standings points in opposing buildings, which is tied with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche for the second-most in the NHL.

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LAST TIME AROUND

MARCH 26, 2018 - ARIZONA (1) vs. CHICAGO (0)

Darcy Kuemper posted a 31- save shutout in the previous meeting between these two clubs on March 26 of last season at Gila River Arena, a 1-0 Coyotes win.

The game remained scoreless through the 45:40 of play until Nick Cousins buried his own rebound off the rush as he cut across the slot, giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead with 14:20 remaining in regulation, the eventual game-winning goal.

Arizona finished with a 2-1-0 record against the Blackhawks last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE (135)

There are three former Blackhawks players on the Coyotes' active roster entering tonight's game: Vinnie Hinostroza , Jordan Oesterle , and Nick Schmaltz .

Those three combined to register 135 points over their Blackhawks tenures; Hinostroza putting up 39 (13G, 26A) in 106 games, Oesterle 15 (5G, 10A) in 55 games, and Schmaltz 91 (26G, 62A) in 162 games.

Hinostroza scored twice in the first of the Coyotes' two visits to Chicago last season, including the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win on October 18, 2018 at United Center.

"I thought Vinnie played really well coming back here, Schmaltz too, those guys love coming back here," head coach Rick Tocchet said Sunday morning. "They've been back here a bunch of times now, so it's not as big of a deal, it's not that first game back."

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QUICK HITS

  • The Coyotes' 18 first period goals-against are the second-fewest in the NHL (PIT - 17).
  • The Blackhawks are 13-3-4 in their last 20 games against the Coyotes at United Center.
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson has 14 points (2G, 12A) in 26 career games against the Blackhawks.
  • Patrick Kane leads Chicago in goals (14), assists (21) and points (35).
  • The Coyotes are 12-0-1 this season when scoring a power play goal.
  • Former Coyote Dylan Strome has 20 points (6G, 14A) in 25 games with a plus-10 rating.
  • Arizona is tied (NYI) for the league lead in wins (13) when being outshot in a game.
  • Arizona owns a 59-67-15-6 all-time record against Chicago.

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Lead Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski - Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Chase Agnello-Dean - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona, NBC Sports Chicago

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