COYOTES (3-4-1) at PANTHERS (2-2-3)
The Coyotes and Florida Panthers are concluding their season series by facing off tonight for the second time in six days. Oliver Ekman-Larsson's power-play goal 2:20 into overtime gave the Coyotes a 2-1 win at Gila River Arena on Oct. 25.
Mike Smith, who owns a 7-4-3 career record with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 15 career games against the Panthers, will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith gave up six goals on 33 shots and was pulled in the third period of a 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, when Arizona started a four-game road trip.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Coyotes have posted a 98-56-31 record in games following a loss under Head Coach Dave Tippett. Furthermore, the Coyotes are 3-0-0 at BB&T Center since 2009-10 and are 5-0-1 overall vs. Florida under Tippett.
Defensemen Keith Yandle (35) and Ekman-Larsson (29) are third and tied for fourth, respectively, in NHL defensemen shots. Arizona is 3-0-1 in games when Yandle registers a point this season including 2-0-1 in his team-leading three multi-point games. Ekman-Larsson is riding a two-game assist streak. Ditto forward Sam Gagner.
Forward Justin Hodgman, who scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut vs. Florida on Oct. 25, is expected to be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
Panthers center Dave Bolland didn't skate Wednesday and is expected to miss a fourth straight game, according to the Miami Herald.
Defenseman Aaron Ekblad is set to play in his eighth NHL game, and general manager Dale Tallon left little doubt in an interview Wednesday with NHL.com that the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft is likely to spend the entire season with Florida.
"One of the reasons our defense has been good is because of Aaron's play," Tallon said. "He's played like a real pro. He's been as good a player as we've had and it's been terrific watching him."
The Panthers will have had four days off since their loss to the Coyotes, which completed a four-game road trip.
"It was a good trip, I think the guys feel real good about themselves," Head Coach Gerard Gallant said. "Now we just have to make sure we take care of business at home for the next couple of games."