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Coyotes at Avalanche preview

Kessel to play 1,000th NHL game; Colorado seeks to remain undefeated

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

COYOTES (1-2-0) at AVALANCHE (3-0-0)



The Game

Phil Kessel will become the 335th player in NHL history and the 21st active player to skate in 1,000 regular-season games when the Arizona Coyotes play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Kessel will also play his 778th consecutive game, the third-longest active streak behind Keith Yandle (801) of the Florida Panthers and Patrick Marleau (789) of the San Jose Sharks.

Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz will make his first NHL start. He made two relief appearances last season, going 0-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Francouz went 27-17-3 with a 2.68 GAA and .918 save percentage in 49 games with 
Colorado of the American Hockey League last season.

Forward Carl Soderberg will play his first game against Colorado since being traded June 25 for defenseman Kevin Connauton and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Soderberg spent the previous four seasons with the Avalanche.


Players to watch

Coyotes forward Conor Garland has scored two of Arizona's five goals this season.

Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen has five points (three goals, two assists) in three games this season.


They said it

"(One thousand games) is a heck of an honor, but to me the consecutive (games streak) is a tougher one, that's really hard to do. It's a special thing. Phil doesn't say much about it, but people notice that it's special. A lot of the young guys really gravitate toward him because he's got a lot of experience. He's kind of an unflappable guy." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet on Phil Kessel

"We want to keep this thing going, continuing to play well at home and put together a run here. We're 3-0 without having played our best hockey. There's still a lot of things we can clean up." -- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog


Coyotes projected lineup

Clayton Keller -- Derek Stepan -- Phil Kessel

Barrett Hayton -- Christian Dvorak -- Nick Schmaltz

Michael Grabner -- Brad Richardson -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Conor Garland -- Carl Soderberg -- Christian Fischer

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Jason Demers

Alex Goligoski -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Jakob Chychrun -- Jordan Oesterle

Antti Raanta

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Ilya Lyubushkin 

Injured: Lawson Crouse (upper body)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Joonas Donskoi -- Nazem Kadri -- Andre Burakovsky

Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- Colin Wilson

Matt Calvert -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Valeri Nichushkin

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Cale Makar

Ryan Graves -- Mark Barberio

Pavel Francouz

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Vladislav Kamenev

Injured: Ian Cole (hip surgery), J.T. Compher (lower body)


Status report

The Coyotes recalled Lyubushkin from Tucson of the American Hockey League and assigned defenseman Kyle Capobianco. … Compher will miss his second straight game.


Stat pack

Goligoski needs one assist for 300 in the NHL. … The Avalanche have won nine straight regular-season home games since a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on March 15 last season.

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