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Game #42 Preview: Arizona vs. St. Louis

Antti Raanta is set to start and Derek Stepan is expected to play as the Coyotes host the red-hot Blues

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #42: ARIZONA (21-16-4) vs. ST. LOUIS (26-8-6)

7:00 PM MST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, AZ

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis, Paul Bissonnette)

Referees: Brad Meier #34, Graham Skilliter #24

Linesmen: Libor Suchanek #80, Andrew Smith #51

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ARIZONA VS. ST. LOUIS

The Coyotes play the final game of the 2019 calendar year tonight as they continue their home stand in welcoming the St. Louis Blues to Gila River Arena, marking the second of the teams' three scheduled meetings this season.

Arizona will return to St. Louis' Enterprise Center for the season series finale on February 20.

The Coyotes are coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday night and have now dropped three consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season.

"They're a good team, they have a lot of skill and some bigger guys so it's going to be a tough game," Oliver Ekman-Larsson said of the Blues following the morning skate. "It's going to be physical, and from here on out it's going to be like that every single night, so we've got to be ready to go."

The Blues are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, extending their win streak to eight games as they open a three-game road trip. St Louis owns the NHL's second-best road record, 13-4-3.

"Obviously they're on a roll and they're the Stanley Cup champs, they're well-structured and well coached," head coach Rick Tocchet said of tonight's opponent. "They get in your way all over the ice whether it's in front of your net, their net, along the boards, there's always a stick or a player in your way, and we've got to play that same way."

Antti Raanta will make his 17th start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed following the morning skate. Derek Stepan , who left Sunday's game early due to an upper-body injury, "should be good to go."

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THREE THINGS

AS OF LATE: Dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season, the Coyotes have fared quite well against the Blues, earning points in six of the teams' seven match-ups during that span (5-1-1), winning five of the previous six meetings. The Coyotes have outscored the Blues by a 25-13 margin since the end of the 2016-17 campaign.

PROTECT THE HOUSE: The Coyotes have allowed the fewest power play goals (6) of any team in the NHL this season, tied with the San Jose Sharks. Arizona's home 87.5 PK% ranks fourth in the league, but it will be tested tonight. The Blues currently own the league's fifth-best power play, executing at a 24.6% rate, and the third-best road power play, executing at a 29.1% rate.

BEST IN THE WEST: The Western Conference-leading Blues come into the night well atop the Central Division, holding first-place with a healthy eight-point margin over the second-place Colorado Avalanche. The Blues have won each of their last eight games, a win streak that was preceded by a three-game losing streak from December 4-10. They are 19-2-3 against Western Conference opponents this year, including a 9-1-2 mark against Pacific Division teams.

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LAST TIME AROUND

NOVEMBER 12, 2019 - ARIZONA (3) at ST. LOUIS (2)

The Coyotes overcame two deficits in regulation to eventually send the game to overtime and a shootout, beating the Blues by a 3-2 final in the teams' previous meeting on November 12 at St. Louis' Enterprise Center.

Clayton Keller tied the game, 1-1, early in the second period and Conor Garland again evened the score, 2-2, in the third period.

Nick Schmaltz and Garland each scored in the shootout while Darcy Kuemper turned away both of the Blues' attempts. Kuemper made a total of 33 saves on the evening.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

NINE (9)

Swansea, IL native Clayton Keller, who grew up right outside of St. Louis, has averaged a point-per-game against his hometown team over the course of his NHL career.

Keller has nine points (2G, 7A) in nine career games against the Blues, including a multi-point effort (1G, 1A) in the Coyotes' 3-2 shootout win over St. Louis in November.

He has 16 points (6G, 10A) in his last 18 games and is currently second on the team in scoring with 29 points (10G, 19A).

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QUICK HITS

  • Christian Dvorak ranks third in the NHL with a 59.1FO%.
  • The Coyotes are 7-5-1 on New Year's Eve since moving to Phoenix in 1996.
  • The Blues' eight-game win streak is the longest active win streak in the NHL.
  • Derek Stepan has 11 points (1G, 10A) in 13 career games against the Blues.
  • St. Louis is 10-0-0 in its last 10 games against Western Conference opponents.
  • Lawson Crouse leads the Coyotes in hits this season with 112.
  • Arizona owns a 61-69-18-3 all-time record against St. Louis.

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Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Kevin Abele - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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