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Hey, Game Day!: Welcome Home

The Coyotes host the Boston Bruins in tonight's home opener at Gila River Arena

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Game #2: Arizona (0-1-0) vs. Boston (1-0-0)

6:00 PM MST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, Arizona

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

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

Referees: Tim Peel #20, Chris Lee #28

Linesmen: Brandon Gawryletz #64, Darren Gibbs #66

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> WELCOME HOME <

Nice to see you. Nice to have you.

It's been 182 days since the Coyotes last played a regular season game on home ice. Tonight they play the first of 41 scheduled at Gila River Arena, and of course, it is hoped that additional dates are added come the spring.

Four of the Coyotes' next six contests will be played at home.

First game jitters aside, Arizona looks to respond to Thursday's defeat with a bounce-back performance while playing as hosts for the first time this season.

"I thought some guys were a bit nervous last game, and maybe that's because of the fact that the expectations are a little higher now," Rick Tocchet said Friday. "It was the first game, it was an okay game for us, but I'm looking for a better game [tonight]."

"We're playing a good hockey club and we've got to be ready to play," he added.

And hello to the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins, who are making their lone visit to Arizona this year. Boston is coming off a season-opening 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, of which was built by two first period goals and a 28-save performance from Tuukka Rask.

No changes are expected to be made to the lineup the Coyotes used in Thursday night's opener, per Tocchet. Darcy Kuemper will start in net.

Antti Raanta , who pitched a 19-save shutout Friday night in a conditioning start with the Tucson Roadrunners, a 2-0 win for the Coyotes' AHL affiliate, has been recalled and will back-up Kuemper tonight. Adin Hill has been assigned to Tucson.

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> THREE THOUGHTS <

A HOME IDENTITY: The Coyotes posted a 20-17-4 record as hosts last season. Protecting home ice and fashioning it to be a tough place for opposition to play is something Rick Tocchet feels the team began to truly develop late last year. "We're trying to create that [identity] here," he said on Friday. "We've got to be diving head-first into every game that we go into, especially at home."

THEY'VE BEEN THERE: Arizona's two newcomers, Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg , each began their NHL careers with the Bruins. Kessel registered 97 points (55G, 42A) in 152 games with Boston from 2006-09, Soderberg 94 points (29G, 65A) in 161 games from 2012-15. Kessel will look to continue to mesh with line mates Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller against his former team, while Soderberg scouts out his first point in a Coyotes uniform.

MAKE A STATEMENT: This is the first of many high-profile opponents the Coyotes will face in October. The Bruins, after going the distance last season only to lose in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues, are a team largely returning with most of its roster after a season that saw them finish with 107 points, tied for the second-most in the NHL. Consider tonight's match-up a very, very solid test for Arizona.

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> LAST TIME AROUND <

December 11, 2018 - Arizona (3) at Boston (4)

The Coyotes struck twice in under a minute to burst out to an early 2-0 lead in their previous meeting with the Bruins on December 11 of last season, an eventual 4-3 loss at Boston's TD Garden.

Nick Schmaltz opened the scoring as he continued his early offensive onslaught after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, burying his fourth goal as a Coyote in what was just his seventh game with Arizona, one-timing a Clayton Keller cross-ice feed past Tuukka Rask during a first period power play.

Michael Bunting scored his first-career NHL goal late in the second period.

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> NUMBER TO KNOW <

EIGHT HUNDRED (800)

Alex Goligoski will play in his 800th-career NHL game tonight. 177 of those have come with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 385 with the Dallas Stars. To round things out, he is set to play in his 238th this evening as a member of the Coyotes.

"Looking back, when you hit these milestones it's pretty cool, that's a lot of games, a lot of time spent in the rink and working on your craft," he said following the team's morning meeting. "To be able to play 800 is special."

Goligoski led all players with five shots registered in Thursday's opener against Anaheim, and finished as the team's co-leader in hits delivered (3) with power forwards Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse , including his angle work on Jakob Silfverberg as the Ducks' forward attempted to enter Arizona territory with the puck in the second period.

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> PHOTO FINISH <

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson stays center to Bruins forward David Patsrnak on November 17, 2018, keeping Boston's second-leading scorer from last season to the perimeter in a concerted effort to shut down a passing lane during the teams' previous meeting at Gila River Arena. (Photo: Adam Bow / Getty Images)

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