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Game #58 Preview: Arizona at Montreal

Ekman-Larsson and Kuemper tabbed game-time decisions as Coyotes vie for series split against Canadiens

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #58: ARIZONA (27-23-7) at MONTREAL (27-23-7)

5:00 PM MST - Bell Centre | Montreal, QC

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Chris Lee #28, Francis Charron #6

Linesmen: Derek Nansen #70, Kiel Murchison #79

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ARIZONA AT MONTREAL

The Coyotes continue their four-game road trip tonight as they take on the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre, marking the second and final meeting between the teams this season.

It's a battle between identical 27-23-7 records in Quebec as the Coyotes look to rebound from Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Canadiens are coming off of a 2-1 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday; Montreal has won three-straight games and seven of its last nine (7-2-0).

"I think they lead the league in shots, they like to funnel pucks and they're a good counter-attack team," head coach Rick Tocchet said of tonight's opponent. "They've got some forwards that aren't scared to go to the net, Brendan Gallagher's a small guy but if you look, he makes his living in front of the net, he's not scared, and they have some players like that, so we've got to box out."

A starting goaltender has not been named, though Darcy Kuemper has been tabbed to be a game-time decision, a final ruling will be made after warm-ups. Both Antti Raanta and Adin Hill are available to play as well.

"They're a good possibility," Tocchet said of both Kuemper and Oliver Ekman-Larsson . "They were just at morning skate just to give it one last, you know, to [work on] a few things, but I think they're pretty good to go. We'll see after warm-up."

Ekman-Larsson has been labeled as a game-time decision as well. No further lineup details have been provided. Defenseman Robbie Russo was assigned to the Tucson Roadrunners on Sunday.

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THREE THINGS

CHASING 100: While the number 200 has been a rather popular number milestone-wise for the Coyotes players this season with eight players having reaching that mark in games played this year, the number 100 is starting to demand some attention. Carl Sodberberg is one goal shy of 100 for his NHL career, Clayton Keller one assist shy of 100 for his NHL career, Vinnie Hinostroza two points shy of 100 for his NHL career, and Rick Tocchet five wins away for 100 as Coyotes head coach.

SHOT HEAVY: The Coyotes will have their work cut out for them against a Canadiens team that leads the NHL in shots, Montreal registers an average of 34.5 per game. Through 57 games, the Coyotes have held their opponents to an average of 32.2 shots, which ranks among the Top-10 medians in the league. Keeping opponents' attempts to the outside in low-percentage areas have been a strength of the Coyotes' identity this year; they enter the night fourth in the league with a 2.68 GA/G.

WITH OPEN ARMS: There is a possibility that defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and goaltender Darcy Kuemper could return to the Coyotes' lineup tonight. A final decision on both players' status will be made after warm-ups. Ekman-Larsson has missed the last four games due to a lower-body injury and Kuemper has missed the last 20 games with a lower-body injury. Both players have been practicing throughout the road trip and were on the ice for today's morning skate.

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LAST TIME AROUND

OCTOBER 30, 2019 - ARIZONA (1) vs. MONTREAL (4)

The Coyotes fell behind early during the teams' previous meeting on October 30 and were unable to match the Canadiens' scoring pace, suffering a 4-1 loss at Gila River Arena.

The Canadiens scored in the opening minute of the first, second, and third periods to build a 3-0 lead. Jakob Chychrun netted the Coyotes' lone goal with 15:13 remaining in regulation, but Montreal countered with 8:57 left to play to net the game's final tally.

Antti Raanta stopped 32 of the 36 shots he faced in the loss.

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

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NUMBER TO KNOW

THREE (3)

Defenseman Jakob Chychrun comes into the night on a season-long three-game point streak (1G, 2A) after netting the Coyotes' final goal in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Bruins. A point tonight would extend his point streak to a career-long four games.

Chychrun's 11 goals and 22 points are career-high marks. He's scored the 10th-most goals among NHL defenseman this season and his four power play goals are tied for the third-most among league blue-liners.

The 21-year-old scored his first-career NHL goal against the Canadiens at Montreal's Bell Centre on October 20, 2016.

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QUICK HITS

  • The Coyotes are 21-7-1 when scoring the first goal of a game this season.
  • Tomas Tatar leads the Canadiens in goals (20), assists (31) and points (51).
  • Montreal is 8-3-0 against Pacific Division opponents this season.
  • Taylor Hall has 16 points (5G, 11A) in 16 career games against the Canadiens.
  • Arizona is the NHL's least-penalized team with 6.5 PIM/G.
  • The Canadiens are 13-14-4 at home this season.
  • Arizona owns an 18-47-9-3 all-time record against Montreal.

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Lead Photo Credit: Vincent Ethierr - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse - NHLI via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona // Sportsnet

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