BLUES (1-1-1) at COYOTES (2-1-0)
TV: FS-MW, FS-A
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mikkel Boedker will be the first to tell you he's not going to score five goals every three games this season. But not many people expect the career-best 19 goals the Arizona Coyotes left wing put up last season to stand either.
Boedker's five goals through three games, including his first career hat trick in a 7-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, are a result of him becoming what Arizona needs for a successful season: their best player and top scorer.
Boedker, 24, will attempt to become the first player in club history to score a goal in each of the first four games of a season Saturday when the Coyotes host the St. Louis Blues.
"We saw it coming last year, and in training camp everyone talked about what a big year he was going to have," Arizona captain and linemate Shane Doan said. "He has the capabilities to be special because he skates so well, he's so strong on the puck and he's got an unbelievable shot. It's all there and now it's coming out."
The final step for Boedker was becoming a little more selfish on the ice.
"He's so overly respectful, he hasn't been demanding the puck or taking shots when other guys might have a chance to," Doan said. "Now, as he becomes the guy for us, he expects the puck and he wants the puck. He's looking to be the finisher on plays. That's the final step for a guy to become a big-time player. He's been on the cusp of being a 30-goal scorer and that's what we need him to be."
The Coyotes lost Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro, two of their top-four scorers from a team that doesn't boast much offensive firepower. Prospects Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson failed to crack the roster in training camp, putting more of an onus on Boedker to produce.
Arizona had 13 different players record a point in improving to 16-2-3 in the past 21 games against Edmonton. It's not what the Coyotes expect every night, but it's a good sign.
"You can't rely on one guy even though (Boedker) is probably the hottest guy in the NHL right now," said forward Rob Klinkhammer, who scored his first goal and had several other choice chances against the Oilers. "Everyone has to chip in for us, and it would be good if we could keep that going."
Goalie Mike Smith got his first win of the season Wednesday, but has allowed 10 goals in the first two games. Coach Dave Tippett didn't reveal his starter against the Blues after practice Friday and the Coyotes didn't skate Saturday. Backup Devan Dubnyk, who allowed two goals in beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 11, is a possibility.
The Blues 1-1-1 start can't be blamed on goalie Brian Elliott, who has a 1.30 goals-against average and is coming off an 18-save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. The Kings won the game 1-0 in a shootout. The shutout allowed Elliott to pass Glenn Hall for sole possession of second place on the Blues all-time list with 17 shutouts.
But St. Louis will give Jake Allen his first start of the season in goal Saturday and his first in the NHL in more than 18 months. Allen was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team when he went 9-4-1 with a 2.46 GAA and .905 save percentage in 2012-13 but didn't play a game in the NHL last season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Patrik Berglund – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Alex Steen – Paul Stastny – Joakim Lindstrom
Jaden Schwartz – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko
Steve Ott – Maxim Lapierre – Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole – Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester – Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman – Jordan Leopold
Injured: Carl Gunnarsson (hip surgery)
Mikkel Boedker -- Antoine Vermette -- Shane Doan
Rob Klinkhammer -- Martin Hanzal -- Martin Erat
Lauri Korpikoski -- Sam Gagner – Kyle Chipchura
Brandon McMillan – Joe Vitale – David Moss
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Zbynek Michalek
Keith Yandle – Michael Stone
Chris Summers – Connor Murphy
Scratched: B.J. Crombeen, David Schlemko
Status report: Chipchura earns a promotion to the third line after an impressive season debut against the Oilers on Wednesday. Sitting out as a healthy scratch in the first two games, Chipchura contributed a goal and some strong energy in the win. Moss moves to the fourth line with McMillan and Vitale, a group that had its best game against Edmonton.
Who's hot: Ekman-Larsson is the first Coyote to score five goals in his first three games since the team moved to Arizona in 1996-97. That first year, Hall of Famer Mike Gartner had four in the first three games … High-profile free agent pickup Stastny has four points in his first three games with the Blues, while Shattenkirk and Schwartz have three points each from the back line. The Coyotes have yet to play a road game this season and are looking to cap a season-opening, four-game road trip with three wins.