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Coyotes, Ducks aim to get back on track

by Corey Masisak /
COYOTES (2-3-1) at DUCKS (4-2-0)


Season Series: This is the first of six meetings this season between the teams. They each won three times last season, but Phoenix prevailed in the final two by a combined margin of 11-4.

Big Story: Both teams are looking to get back on track after dropping games to Pacific Division foes on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix racked up nine goals while rolling to a pair of victories last week, but the Coyotes have managed only two in a pair of losses this week. They were routed Tuesday night by Chicago, but played much better in a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday.

Mike Smith was a tough-luck loser for the second time in four starts. Since yielding six goals in his Phoenix debut, Smith has allowed only four in the in his past three starts but has won only once.

Given the fast start of the Dallas Stars and the expected strength of the three California teams, the Pacific could be the toughest division in the NHL this season. New goaltender Mike Smith isn't concerned that the Coyotes are looking up at those four in the standings.

"It's early in the season," Smith told the Arizona Republic. "We've done a lot of good things. It's too early to hit the panic button. It's a long year; there are a lot of games left."

Ducks: The Ducks had won four straight since dropping their season opener in Helsinki, including all three on this continent, before a 3-1 loss Thursday to Dallas in what was a matchup of one-loss teams. Corey Perry scored with less than a second remaining in the second period, but otherwise the club was not happy with the effort.

"They don't feel good about what happened last night," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "We shouldn't. Because I think in some instances we were outworked. The Dallas Stars last night showed a higher level of will than we did. And that was most upsetting for me."

The offense has yet to snap out of its early-season funk. Anaheim has just 11 goals in six games, and no player on the team has more than three points. A great start from Jonas Hiller has helped mitigate the struggles at the other end of the ice.

Who's Hot: Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson is tied for the League lead in goals by a defenseman with three. He had one in 48 games as a rookie. Hiller has allowed six goals in his past four starts and now has a 1.97 goals against average.

Injury Report: Michal Rozsival has not played for the Coyotes since taking a puck to the face Oct. 8 against San Jose. Jason Blake is out for three months for the Ducks because of a torn tendon stemming from a skate cut on his forearm Oct. 14 against the Sharks. Brandon McMillan has replaced him on the second line.

Stat Pack: The Ducks are tied for the second-fewest goals scored per game in the League with New Jersey at 1.83 per contest. Anaheim is a perfect 16-for-16 on the penalty kill in home games. Boyd Gordon was one of the top faceoff specialists in the League during his tenure with the Washington Capitals, and the free-agent addition has continued that success in the desert. He's currently second in the NHL at 62.5 percent, and also leads the team with a plus-five rating.

Puck Drop: Carlyle said the players weren't happy with the performance against Dallas a day later, but the coach was really unhappy moments after the loss.

"Turnover fest – it looked like we were working in a restaurant flipping flapjacks," Carlyle told reporters after the game about the team's effort in the first period when the Stars gained a 2-0 lead.

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