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Game #40 Preview: Arizona at Vegas

The top spot in the Pacific Division is on the line as the Coyotes take on the Golden Knights in return from the holiday break

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #40: ARIZONA (21-14-4) at VEGAS (20-15-6)

8:00 PM MST - T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas, NV

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Dean Morton #36, Brad Meier #34

Linesmen: Darren Gibbs #66, Libor Suchanek #60

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ARIZONA AT VEGAS

The Coyotes return from the holiday break to take on the Vegas Golden Knights this evening at T-Mobile Arena, marking the third of five scheduled meetings between the teams this season.

Vegas will again travel to Gila River Arena on March 18 for the fourth match-up, Arizona back to T-Mobile Arena on March 25 for the season series finale.

Tonight will serve as the Coyotes' first live action since last Monday, a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The team held a full practice on Friday ahead of traveling to Vegas for tonight's game.

"It was nice to have a practice to get the turkey legs and the Christmas meals out," Lawson Crouse said. "In the position that we're in, we're all excited to get back out there and keep climbing the standings, showing the rest of the league what we're made of."

The Golden Knights are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks last night, dropping their second straight game and the third in their last four (1-2-1).

"The have some highly skilled forwards up front, some really good defenders and really good goaltending," Crouse added of tonight's opponent. "I think shutting their speed down is going to be huge for us, not turning pucks over, and really putting pressure on them in their own zone."

Antti Raanta will make his 15th start of the season tonight, Rick Tocchet confirmed following Friday's practice.

Either Aaron Ness or Ilya Lyubushkin will return to the lineup tonight following the assignment of defenseman Jordan Gross to the Tucson Roadrunners on Tuesday.

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THREE THINGS

TOP-HEAVY: The top five teams in the Pacific Division all stand within four points of each other, the Coyotes atop the group with 46 points, the fifth-place Vancouver Canucks with 42 points. Tonight's opponent, the Golden Knights, also enter the night with 46 points, though the Coyotes have two games in hand on their counterpart. Arizona will maintain first-place in the division tonight with a win of any kind (Reg., OT, SO).

LEADING THE WAY: The Coyotes' top two leading scorers, Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller , each come into the night with four-game point streaks. Schmaltz, pacing the team with 30 points (6G, 24A), has combined for seven assists during his current streak, while Keller, who sits second on the team with 29 points (10G, 19A) has amassed three goals and three assists over the club's previous four games.

PREMIUM POINTS: The Coyotes have been strong in division play this season, posting a 7-3-3 record against Pacific opponents, earning points in 10 of their 13 intra-division games played, the best record among all eight teams in the group. The Golden Knights are right behind the Coyotes in terms of intra-division success, posting the second-best record against Pacific opponents, a 9-4-2 mark.  

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LAST TIME AROUND

NOVEMBER 29, 2019 - ARIZONA (1) at VEGAS (2) F/SO

The Coyotes suffered their second shootout loss of the season in the teams' previous meeting on November 29, falling to the Golden Knights by a 2-1 final at Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.

Jakob Chychrun scored Arizona's lone regulation goal to tie the game, 1-1, with 5:07 remaining in the second period, finding the back of the net on the rush as he flew past Vegas defenders wide to the left before beating Malcolm Subban with a shot high to the short side.

Christian Dvorak scored in the top of the third round of the shootout, but the Golden Knights connected in both the first and third rounds to secure the victory.

Darcy Kuemper made a total of 37 saves.

Arizona is 1-0-1 against Vegas this season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

TWO HUNDRED (200)

Lawson Crouse will tonight play in his 200th NHL game, becoming the seventh player on the Coyotes roster to hit that milestone this season.

That list includes Darcy Kuemper, Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza , Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, and Clayton Keller.

The 22-year-old power forward has 49 points (24G, 25A) through his first 199 games, including 11 points (7G, 4A) in 35 games played this season.

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QUICK HITS

  • Christian Dvorak's 59.5 FO% ranks third in the NHL.
  • The Coyotes' 2.49 goals-against per game average is second in the NHL.
  • The Golden Knights are 10-7-3 at T-Mobile Arena this season.
  • Phil Kessel has six points (5G, 1A) in six career games against the Golden Knights.
  • The Coyotes are 15-3-1 this season when scoring the first goal of a game.
  • Mac Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights in goals (16) and points (38).
  • Arizona owns a 4-4-3 all-time record against Vegas.

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Lead Photo Credit: Ethan Miller - Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Marc Sanchez - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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