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Preview: Coyotes Face Tough Test with Back-to-Back Series Versus Avs

Jan. 14-15 marks the first of three consecutive weekends Arizona slated to play back-to-backs

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

January 14, 2022 | 7:00 PM AZ Time | Ball Arena
TV: Bally Sports Arizona+ | Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

After a 2-2-0 homestand, Arizona hits the road to begin a back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Colorado Avalanche. The clash with the Avs, who are winners of their last 12 home games, begins on Friday (Jan. 14) in Denver and will be followed by the two teams squaring off again in Arizona on Saturday (Jan. 15). Friday's puck drop with the Avalanche is set for 7 p.m.

PACK FACTS
Friday is the first of four meetings the Coyotes have with Colorado this season. The Avs are the lone Central Division team Arizona has yet to play in 2021-22. The teams are scheduled to also play Feb. 1 and March 3 at Ball Arena and Gila River Arena, respectively.

The Jan. 14-15 games are the first of three straight weekends the Coyotes play in a Friday-Saturday back-to-back. The series with the Avs is the only one of that stretch in two different cities as well as the only back-to-back the Yotes have with the same team this season.

The Coyotes and Avalanche were divisional opponents in the makeshift Honda West Division in 2020-21, with Arizona posting a 2-5-1 record in last season's head-to-head. The franchises were never divisional opponents before then.

Phil Kessel led Arizona in scoring against the Avalanche last year with 2-5-7. He enters Friday nearly a point-per-game player versus Colorado in his career with 13-11-24 in 26 games played.

Arizona is coming off a 2-1 victory over Toronto on Wednesday (Jan. 12) where the team got two goals from Ryan Dzingel. The game was Dzingel's first since Dec. 10 after missing the last seven due to injury, and marked his first multi-goal game of the campaign.

Karel Vejmelka on Wednesday turned aside 45-of-46 Maple Leaf shots to secure his second victory in his last three outings. The performance improved his season save percentage to .910, good for fifth among rookie goalies (min. 10 GP).

Vejmelka's 45 saves on Wednesday made him the first rookie goalie in Coyotes/Jets history to tally multiple wins with 45-plus saves in a season. In the process, he tied Mike Smith (2013-14) for the franchise record of most games with at least 45 saves in a season, and is the sixth rookie goaltender since the NHL started tracking saves to record multiple wins of 45-plus saves in a single campaign. 

The Coyotes franchise is 58-59-12-11 all-time against the Avalanche/Nordiques.

A LOOK AT THE AVALANCHE
Colorado (22-8-3, 47 pts) has gone 18-3-2 in its last 23 games after starting the season 4-5-1. Defenseman Cale Makar leads all NHL blueliners in goals with 16 and is fourth in points (34) in that criteria. Recently claiming the League-lead in assists, Nazem Kadri (13-35-48) enters play with an eight-game point streak, tallying 14 points (2-12-14) in that span. The Avalanche are hold the League's best Points Percentage since Nov. 11 at .826 (next closest: Toronto, .762). 

MILESTONES TO WATCH
Lawson Crouse: Two assists from 50 career NHL assists.

Alex Galchenyuk: One game from 600 career NHL games.

Johan Larsson: One goal from 50 career goals.

KEY CONNECTIONS
Ex-Coyotes
•   Darcy Kuemper (2017-21)

Ex-Avalanche
•    André Tourigny (Assistant Coach, 2013-15)
•    Conor Timmins (2019-21)
•   Liam O'Brien (2020-21)

Bill Armstrong was an amateur scout for St. Louis when the organization selected Erik Johnson No. 1 overall in 2006.

Travis Boyd played with Andre Burakovsky in Washington from 2017-19.

Shayne Gostisbehere skated with Nicolas Aube-Kubel in Philadelphia from 2018-21.

Phil Kessel represented Team USA with Jack Johnson at the USNTDP (2003-05), 2005-06 World Junior Championships, 2010 Winter Olympic Games and played with him in Pittsburgh (2018-19)…Teammates with Nazem Kadri in Toronto from 2010-15.

Andrew Ladd played with Devon Toews on the Islanders from 2017-19.

Johan Larsson represented Team Sweden with Gabriel Landeskog at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

Antoine Roussel played with Valeri Nichushkin in Dallas over parts of the 2013-16 seasons.

Cory Stillman won a Stanley Cup as a player with Nolan Pratt in Tampa Bay in 2003-04.
 

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