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Game #38 Preview: Arizona at Detroit

Jordan Gross to make NHL debut and Antti Raanta to start as Coyotes begin a back-to-back set

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #38: ARIZONA (20-13-4) at DETROIT (9-25-3)

5:00 PM MST Little Caesars Arena | Detroit, MI

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Brian Pochmara #16, Dan O'Halloran #13

Linesmen: Andrew Smith #51, Scott Driscoll #68

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ARIZONA AT DETROIT

The Coyotes make their lone visit of the year to Little Caesars Arena tonight to take on the Detroit Red Wings, marking the first of two scheduled meetings between the clubs this season.

Detroit will travel to Gila River Arena on March 20 to complete the season series.

Tonight kicks off a back-to-back set for the Coyotes ahead of the Christmas holiday break; Arizona is coming off of an 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

The Red Wings are coming off of a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and have now dropped three consecutive games. Detroit has lost eight of its last nine home games (1-8-0) and is 5-13-1 at Little Caesars Arena this season.

Defenseman Jordan Gross , recalled from the Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday, will make his NHL debut this evening. He has 15 points (4G, 11A) in 26 games with the Coyotes' AHL affiliate this season.

"It's really exciting," Gross said following the morning skate. "I can't wait to step on the ice tonight for the first time. I've just got to go out there and play my game tonight. I'm a puck-moving defenseman, I like to chip in with the offense, so I'll try and do that tonight."

Gross will become the first player in franchise history to wear #79 in a regular season game.

"He should just have fun and go play," head coach Rick Tocchet said of the 23-year-old defenseman. "I've really like his practices the last couple days, I think he's been playing really well in Tucson. He's a right-handed shot, he's got a bomb, he's got a hell of a shot, I just want him to go play the way he did in Tucson."

Antti Raanta will make his 13th start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed after the morning skate. Adin Hill , recalled on Friday, will serve as Raanta's back-up. Darcy Kuemper is out week-to-week after suffering a lower-body injury on Thursday.

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THREE THINGS

PARITY IN THE PACIFIC: The top spot is on the line tonight. Following the Edmonton Oilers' 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday, the top three teams in the Pacific Division enter the evening deadlocked with 44 standings' points apiece. The Coyotes, however, have a game in hand on the second place Vegas Golden Knights and two games in hand on the third place Oilers. The Oilers do not play tonight, while the Golden Knights play at the San Jose Sharks.

NEW GUY GROSS: When Jordan Gross takes the ice for his first NHL game, it won't be his first time playing alongside two particular teammates. As Coyotes television play-by-play announcer Matt McConnell pointed out Sunday morning, Gross was a teammate of Nick Schmaltz 's for three seasons with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, and played a year of collegiate hockey with Vinnie Hinostroza at the University of Notre Dame.

ROUGH TIMES, RED WINGS: The Red Wings come into the night ranked last in the NHL with a 9-25-3 record, last in goals-against (3.89 GA/G) and goals-for (2.16 GF/G), and last in penalty kill percentage (73.5% kill rate). "Any team in the NHL that works hard, anything can happen," Rick Tocchet said of the Red Wings, who he thought played well and out-chanced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. "Listen, we shouldn't take anyone lightly, I know their players aren't taking tonight's game lightly and they're going to work hard tonight."

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LAST TIME AROUND

MARCH 2, 2019 - ARIZONA (3) vs. DETROIT (1)

The Coyotes continued their 2019 playoff push with a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in the teams' previous meeting on March 2 of last season at Gila River Arena, extending their win streak, at the time, to six games.

Josh Archibald and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the opening frame to give the Coyotes an early 2-0 advantage; Vinnie Hinostroza found the back of the net early in the third to counter the Red Wings' second period tally.

Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves in the win.

Arizona went 1-1-0 against Detroit last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

THIRTY-TWO (32)

Phil Kessel has quite the track record against the Red Wings, registering a total of 32 points (16G, 16A) in 27 career games played versus Detroit.

He's buried five goals and a total of seven points in his previous three games against the Red Wings, including two game-winners, of which came as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

Kessel opened the scoring in the Coyotes' 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, his eighth of the season.

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QUICK HITS

  • The Coyotes' 27 road points (12-4-3) are the second most in the NHL (WSH - 31).
  • Tyler Bertuzzi leads the Red Wings in goals (13), assists (16), and points (29).
  • The Red Wings are 1-9-3 this season when trailing after the first period of play.
  • Christian Dvorak 's next point will be the 100th of his NHL career.
  • Detroit has allowed a league-high 144 goals this season.
  • Taylor Hall has 13 points (4G, 9A) in 21 career games against the Red Wings.
  • Arizona owns a 49-64-22-8 all-time record against Detroit.

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Lead Photo Credit: Dave Reginek - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Dave Reginek - NHLI via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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