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Game #54 Preview: Arizona vs. Chicago

Coyotes vie for first-ever season sweep of Blackhawks; Garland to play in 100th NHL game, Raanta to start

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #54: ARIZONA (26-21-6) vs. CHICAGO (24-21-6)

6:00 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: Jean Hebert #15, Jake Brenk #26

Linesmen: Ryan Gibbons #58, Julien Fournier #56

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ARIZONA VS. CHICAGO

Continuing their four-game home stand, the Coyotes are set to host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at Gila River Arena, marking the final of the teams' three regular season match-ups.

The Coyotes did not practice on Friday following Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, but did hold a regularly scheduled team meeting.

"It was a good day yesterday in a sense of recovery, just getting our minds ready for tonight," head coach Rick Tocchet said after today's morning skate. "It's another opportunity for us, we've got to win a hockey game."

The Blackhawks, coming off their bye week, have not played since January 21 when they suffered a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on home ice, putting an end their five-game win streak. Their pre-break resurgence has moved them to within four points of the Western Conference's final wild-card playoff spot, which the Coyotes currently own.

"It's the same thing every time we play Chicago, high-end. They've got two or three world-class players that can win games by themselves, and they've got other young players that have been playing well for them," Tocchet said of the Blackhawks. "They've won some games here the last 10-15 games, they've gotten themselves back into it. Same attitude whoever we play, but they're a dangerous team with some special players."

Antti Raanta will start in goal for the Coyotes, Tocchet announced following Friday's practice.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson , who left during the second period of Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, will be a game-time decision, as will Jason Demers and Brad Richardson .

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THREE THINGS

SWEEP THE HAWKS: Should the Coyotes win tonight, it will mark the first season sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks in franchise history. Arizona topped Chicago 4-3 in a shootout on December 8, and 5-2 on December 12. There have only been two instances where the team did not lose to the Blackhawks - 1991/92 (2-0-1) and 2003-04 (1-0-3), the third category during those seasons denoting ties.

HOME COOKIN': Despite a rather tumultuous month of January, the Coyotes played relatively consistent on home ice, a good type of consistent. The team enters the night continuing to ride its longest home point streak of the season, a stretch of six games (4-0-2) dating back to December 31. "That's one of the positive things I think we've been doing, we're getting some points at home," Tocchet said. "If you're going to get in this thing, you're going to have to win at home."

GOT THEIR NUMBER: The Coyotes have fared well against the Blackhawks over the past two calendar years, having won five of their last six games played against Chicago (5-1-0) dating back to February 12, 2018. Arizona has won three consecutive games against Chicago on home ice, outscoring the Blackhawks by a 12-3 margin during that span.

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LAST TIME AROUND

DECEMBER 12, 2019 - ARIZONA (5) vs. CHICAGO (2)

The Coyotes were hot from the get-go in the teams' previous meeting on December 12 at Gila River Arena en route to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Michael Grabner , Clayton Keller , and Brad Richardson jolted the Coyotes out to an early 3-0 lead with goals in the opening frame; Nick Schmaltz tallied in the second and Keller added another in the third.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in the win.

Arizona is 2-0-0 against Chicago this season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

ONE HUNDRED (100)

Conor Garland is expected to play in his 100th career NHL game tonight.

The 23-year-old forward has totaled 47 points (29G, 18A) through his first 99 games and leads the Coyotes roster in goals scored this season with 16.

Garland sparked the Coyotes' two-goal third period comeback with a crucial tally on December 8 at Chicago's United Center, ultimately helping pave the way to a 4-3 shootout victory for Arizona.

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QUICK HITS

  • Carl Soderberg is one goal shy of 100 for his NHL career.
  • The Coyotes are 17-10-5 this season when getting outshot by their opponent.
  • Corey Crawford has a career record of 12-4-2 against the Coyotes.
  • Taylor Hall has 28 points (12G, 16A) in 23 career games against the Blackhawks.
  • The Blackhawks are 16-1-3 when leading after one period of play this season.
  • Patrick Kane has 47 points (16G, 31A) over the course of his career against the Coyotes.
  • Arizona owns a 61-67-15-6 all-time record against Chicago.

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

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