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Coyotes vs. Devils Preview

Arizona is looking for its first win on its current homestand

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE - The Coyotes will look to end a modest two-game losing skid on Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (23-35-8) has earned just one of four points on its current homestand thanks to a regulation loss to Carolina and an overtime defeat to Ottawa earlier this week. 

The Coyotes have lost five consecutive games to New Jersey, including a 5-3 decision at the Prudential Center on Oct. 25.

"We're trying to focus on us and to build every game," defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "I think our last game was a good start. We didn't get the result but we did a lot of good things in the game ... We could use a few bounces to go our way. We are playing a hard-working team that needs a win so we have to match that." 

Video: Alex Goligoski previews Saturday's game vs. Devils

Goalie Mike Smith, who did not play in the first meeting between the teams because of injury, is expected to make his 45th start of the season seeking his first win since Feb. 20. 

Arizona rookies have produced 80 points this season, the fourth highest total among the 30 NHL teams. Forward Christian Dvorak is leading the way with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists). Dvorak also is a plus-4, the only member of the team, rookie or veteran, who is a "plus."

Arizona is 3-for-39 on the power play in its past 13 games and was 0-for-4 against Ottawa. 

"Power-play goals would give us a big lift," Dvorak said. "We improved in the last game moving the puck and now we just have to get one in."

Video: Christian Dvorak previews Saturday's game vs. Devils

Center Alexander Burmistrov skated at Friday's practice but will miss his fifth consecutive game because of an upper-body injury he suffered at Boston on Feb. 28. Defenseman Kevin Connauton also will not play vs. New Jersey because of injury.

New Jersey (25-30-12) is dropping quickly in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a nine-game winless streak (0-7-2). The Devils have not won a game since Feb. 18, and have been outscored, 28-15, in those nine defeats, which include three shutout losses.

"Offense doesn't come naturally to our whole forward group and we've struggled to score goals at times this year and we're struggling right now," forward Taylor Hall told reporters after Thursday's 3-2 loss at Colorado. "When that happens you want to simplify things and make sure pucks are getting to the net and getting to the slot." 

Goalie Corey Schneider is expected to start. Schneider has played extremely well vs. the Coyotes in his career; he's 8-1-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage in 10 games, and four of his 23 NHL shutouts have come vs. Arizona.

Hall is leading the team with 43 points and 28 assists. His 15 goals rank third behind forwards Kyle Palmieri (20) and Adam Henrique (16).

Captain Andy Greene is expected to play after missing the past four games because of the death of his father on March 4.

"He's the leader of our team and we all know the important types of minutes that he plays," Head Coach John Hynes said. "It will allow other guys to slot into more favorable minutes so they can play well." 

Forward Travis Zajac, who ranks third on the team with 39 points, will not play because he has returned to New Jersey for the birth of his third child.



TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM


Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup. #NJDvsARI


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