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Preview: Coyotes vs. Lightning

Arizona is starting a five-game homestand on Saturday night

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

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will return to home ice on Saturday night looking to snap a four-game losing streak when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (13-26-6), which is starting a five-game homestand, hung tough but lost to Minnesota, 4-3, on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center despite getting goals from Brendan Perlini, Jakob Chychrun and Jamie McGinn.

Mike Smith, who played 118 games for the Lightning from 2007-11, will start in goal for the Coyotes.

Center Martin Hanzal will be back in the lineup after missing two games because of a family matter. Hanzal was missed in the face-off circles during his absence; Arizona won just 35 of 104 draws (33.7 percent) vs. Winnipeg and Minnesota.

Video: Shane Doan previews Saturday's game vs. Lightning

Chychrun, who scored one goal in his first 34 NHL games, has scored one in each of the past two games to raise his season total to three. 

Rookie Christian Fischer will make his NHL debut in this game. Arizona recalled the 19-year-old right wing from Tucson of the American Hockey League on Friday. He produced 16 goals and 16 assists in 31 games for Tucson, and recently was named the AHL's Player of the Week and to the upcoming AHL All-Star game.

"He's a young player who had a pretty good training camp and then went down to Tucson and earned his chance to play here," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a thick guy who plays a heavy game and I'm interested to see what he can do." 

Video: Dave Tippett previews Saturday's game vs. Lightning

Once he plays, Fischer, whom Arizona drafted 32nd overall in 2015, will become the seventh rookie to make his NHL debut with the Coyotes this season. The others are: Chychrun, Perlini, Lawson Crouse, Anthony DeAngelo, Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome. 

"This is a dream you have for your whole life and it's pretty cool to make it a reality," Fischer said. "It's a long time coming, a lot of hard work. I couldn't be more excited." 

Video: Christian Fischer answers questions before NHL debut

Tampa Bay (21-21-5) is halfway through a six-game trip, and will enter this game 1-1-1 so far despite scoring just four goals in the first three games.

The Lightning have posted four straight wins vs. the Coyotes, and have outscored Arizona 15-6 in those games.

Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 39 power-play goals and ranks fourth in power-play success at 23.1 percent.

Right wing Nikita Kucherov leads the Bolts with 17 goals and 42 points. Defenseman Victor Hedman has notched a team-high 31 assists. Hedman, who has missed the past three games because an undisclosed illness, practiced with teammates on Friday. 

Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevsky have been splitting goaltending duties over the past week and both have appeared in 25 games overall. 

Steven Stamkos remains sidelined after having knee surgery on Nov. 17. Without their captain, the Lightning have posted an 11-15-4 record.



TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM



Rieder - Hanzal - Vrbata

Perlini - Dvorak - Doan

McGinn - Burmistrov - Fischer

Crouse - Holland - White


Ekman-Larsson - Schenn

Goligoski - Stone

Chychrun - Murphy




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