SENATORS (16-16-8) at COYOTES (16-20-4)
TV: CITY, FS-A
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes are in the midst of a strange stretch. They have won five of the past seven games, but lost by a combined 12-0 score in the two losses, tempering the enthusiasm of the victories as they face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
A 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday, however, came with two important positives. The struggling Arizona penalty kill unit, without center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek stopped all seven Winnipeg penalties, and goalie Mike Smith won for the second time in three starts, regaining confidence halfway through what has been a miserable season.
Smith is now 7-16-2 for the season, but said he feels he has found something in the past three games that could put him back on track.
“This was one of my best games. There haven’t been many (to choose from) but this was good,” Smith said. “I’ve felt a lot more comfortable in practice and we’ve talked about implementing that in games, and the last three you can feel that. I feel like I’ve really turned the corner in the last couple of weeks and got a little bit of swagger back in my game.
“Even the 6-0 loss (to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday) I felt like there were positives I could take into the next game. It’s hard to say that about a game like that, but I didn’t come out feeling depressed and I carried some good feelings into (Thursday).”
The Coyotes will again be without Hanzal and Michalek, who will each miss a second straight game with an upper body injury. Coach Dave Tippett broke up normal linemates Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan and both found success in win against the Jets. Boedker scored two goals, and Doan had a season-high three points with a goal and two assists.
Boedker has 11 goals but had another long scoring drought before the two-goal game. The second one, where he raced end-to-end and showed off his elite speed, is something Tippett said he would like to see more often.
“He’s got the green light to come back to the puck,” Tippett said. “You look at players like Patrick Kane (of the Chicago Blackhawks) who come back to the puck and carry it through the neutral zone with speed. The more times we can put Boedker in that situation, the more times he can be successful.”
The game will feature the first NHL matchup of the Stone brothers – Ottawa forward Mark Stone and Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone.
“We had quite a few battles in the basement and out on the driveway, no matter what sport we were playing,” Michael Stone said. “One of the main reason we got where we are at is we pushed each other along. You hope at the beginning of the season that it will work out and we’re still both playing when January comes. It worked out, and to be on the same NHL game sheet; that’s something you dream about that’s coming true.”
A second matchup of brothers – Milan and Zbynek Michalek – was derailed by Zybnek’s injury. It would have been the first time two unrelated sets of two brothers faced off against each other in the NHL since Dec. 23, 1983, when Wayne Babych and Joe Mullen of St. Louis faced off against Dave Babych and Brian Mullen of Winnipeg.
Here are the projected lineups:
Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris – Alex Chiasson
Mike Hoffman - Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Bobby Ryan
Erik Condra - Mika Zibanejad – Curtis Lazar
Milan Michalek - David Legwand - Mark Stone
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci
Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba
Scratched: Colin Greening, Patrick Wiercioch
Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lacerated leg), Chris Neil (knee) Zack Smith (wrist)
Martin Erat – Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Lucas Lessio –Sam Gagner – Mikkel Boedker
Tobias Rieder – Kyle Chipchura – Lauri Korpikoski
Brandon McMillan – Joe Vitale – David Moss
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Michael Stone
Keith Yandle – Chris Summers
Brandon Gormley Connor Murphy
Injured: Martin Hanzal, Zbynek Michalek
Scratched: B.J. Crombeen
Status report: Chipchura again steps in to replace Hanzal. Summers had a strong game against the Jets and will pair with Yandle, and replace Michalek on the blue line. … The Senators signed 39-year-old Todd Bertuzzi for a tryout contract with Binghamton of the American Hockey League. … The Senators will play Lazar and Phillips Saturday, with Greening and Weircioch sitting as scratches.
Who's hot: Ryan has five goals in the past five games and has 12 for the season. … Erat has 10 points in 12 games against Ottawa. … Ekman-Larsson has 11 goals, tied for the lead among NHL defensemen, and leads all defensemen with eight power-play goals.