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Game #45 Preview: Arizona at Florida

Adin Hill to make his first start of the season as Coyotes begin three-game Atlantic swing

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #45: ARIZONA (23-16-4) at FLORIDA (22-15-5)

5:00 PM MST - BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Jean Hebert #15, Kevin Pollock #33

Linesmen: Derek Nansen #70, Greg Devorski #54

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ARIZONA AT FLORIDA

The Coyotes begin a three-game Atlantic Division road swing tonight when they take on the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, marking the first of the team's two scheduled regular season meetings.

Florida will visit Gila River Arena on February 25 to complete the season series.

Back on the road, the Coyotes carry with them a three-game win streak, the latest of which a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The team, however, is not content with its current run, and is looking to apply a model of consistency during its road trip.

"I've liked the way the guys have approached the last two days, it's a little different than the last time we were here," head coach Rick Tocchet said, referencing last March's trip to Florida. "You can tell the guys' antennas are up, this is not the do-or-die trip, I don't want to put too much pressure on the guys, but this is a trip you want to play consistent on."

The Panthers are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday and are opening a four-game home stand tonight. Florida has won four consecutive games on home ice.

"I'm a big fan of their big guy Barkov," Tocchet added. "He plays a lot of minutes and he just controls the game. They've got talented forwards. It's a team that, at the end of the day, like we talked about, could be in the Stanley Cup Final."

Four Coyotes players enter the night with active point streaks of three or more games: Nick Schmaltz (1G, 5A / 4 Games), Derek Stepan (1G, 3A / 3 Games), Lawson Crouse (2G, 1A / 3 Games), and Phil Kessel (1G, 2A / 3 Games).

Adin Hill will make his first start of the season tonight, Tocchet confirmed following the team's optional morning skate. Ivan Prosvetov , recalled from the Tucson Roadrunners on Sunday, will serve as Hill's back-up. Derek Stepan is a game-time decision.

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THREE THINGS

KILLER TRIP: The last time the Coyotes traveled to Florida, they found themselves in a late-season playoff spot. Back-to-back losses to the Lightning and Panthers changed that. "This is a killer trip," Tocchet said Saturday. "You've got Florida, Tampa, and Carolina; any of those teams could be in the Stanley Cup Final. To me it's a business trip. We went to Florida last year and it cost us the playoffs, we didn't have a good trip. I heard some players that this 'might be a little payback', this road trip, which is nice hear."

CALLING ON ADIN: With Darcy Kuemper week-to-week and Antti Raanta say-to-day, Adin Hill gets the Coyotes' net tonight. For Hill, it'll serve as his 16th NHL start; he is 8-8-0 with a 2.89 GAA and .901 SV% in 19 overall NHL appearances. "Hilly's done a nice job for us when he's played," Tocchet said. "He's ready, he's practiced hard." The 23-year-old netminder has stopped 30 of the 32 shots he's faced in 58:06 of relief time this season.

CATS AND DOGS: The Coyotes will look to slay the dragon that is playing at Florida's BB&T Center. More often than not, there is no rhyme or reason to a particular trend, and in this case, that trend is the Coyotes' five-game losing streak in Florida's home building. Arizona has not earned a win at BB&T Center since March 11, 2014, going 0-5-0 during that stretch. The Coyotes are 13-6-3 on the road this year, while the Panthers are 13-7-2 at home.

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LAST TIME AROUND

MARCH 21, 2019 - ARIZONA (2) at FLORIDA (4)

Michael Grabner opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally in the early stages of the first period and Brad Richardson struck in the game's final moments, but the Coyotes ultimately fell short to the Panthers in the teams' previous meeting on March 21 of last season at Florida's BB&T Center, suffering a 4-2 loss.

Darcy Kuemper made 18 saves and Richardson finished the night with a team-high two points (1G, 1A).

Arizona posted a 1-1-0 record against Florida last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

SEVENTEEN & EIGHTEEN (17 & 18)

Dating back to November 30, Clayton Keller is averaging a point per game, putting up a total of 17 (8G, 9A) over the team's last 17 games. He has been held off the score sheet on just five occasions during that span, but has countered those with four multi-point efforts.

Keller enters the night as the Coyotes' leading road scorer with 18 points (7G, 11A) in 22 of the Coyotes' away games played thus far. The 21-year-old has registered a point in 18 of the Coyotes' 24 wins this season and is coming off his sixth multi-point and third multi-goal performance in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

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QUICK HITS

  • Nick Schmaltz's next assist will be the 100th of his NHL career.
  • The Coyotes' 83.1 PK% ranks fourth in the NHL.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers in scoring with 57 points (17G, 40A).
  • Taylor Hall has 12 points (5G, 7A) in 15 career games against the Panthers.
  • The Panthers' 3.52 goals per game ranks fifth in the NHL.
  • The Coyotes' 2.50 goals-against per game ranks third in the NHL.
  • Jason Demers registered 28 points (9G, 19A) with the Panthers during the 2016-17 season.
  • Arizona owns an 18-13-3-2 all-time record against Florida.

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Lead Photo Credit: Eliot J. Schechter - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Eliot J. Schechter - NHLI via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona

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