By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will begin a four-game stretch of road games vs. Eastern Conference teams tonight when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Center. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (8-4-3) last played on Saturday night and blanked San Jose, 3-0, at HP Pavilion. After tonight’s game, the Coyotes will next play at Philadelphia, Buffalo and Washington.
The Coyotes have not allowed a power-play goal in seven consecutive games and rank fourth in the NHL in penalty-killing percentage (88.7 percent). The last time the Coyotes surrendered a power-play goal was on Oct. 25 vs. Dallas. Click here
to read more about Phoenix's excellent penalty killing.
will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith recorded his first shutout with Phoenix on Saturday, stopping all 31 shots he faced vs. the Sharks. Smith is unbeaten in his last eight starts (6-0-2) and is unbeaten in three starts against the Maple Leafs (2-0-1) in his career.
Center Daymond Langkow
remains on a leave of absence because of a death in his family. Center Kyle Chipchura
has filled in nicely for Langkow, and has won 12 of 17 faceoffs over the past two games.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
will be looking to snap out of a six-game scoring slump.
“It seems like the puck isn’t going in, but eventually it will,” Doan said. “I’m just waiting for it.”
Center Boyd Gordon
said the Coyotes need to build off Saturday’s big win at San Jose.
“I think if we keep things simple, keep things straight ahead, limit mistakes and try to spend a lot of time in their end it’ll make it easier on ourselves,” Gordon said. “I think the blueprint for us is probably the San Jose game.”
After a fast start, the Maple Leafs (10-6-1) have lost three of their past four games with all of the losses coming on home ice. They've been outscored 17-3 in those defeats, including a 5-2 loss to Ottawa on Saturday.
Right wing Phil Kessel, who is the NHL's top scorer with 12 goals and 24 points, has accounted for 17.8 percent of the Maple Leafs' 135 points this season.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Kessel and linemates Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul have notched four of Toronto's six goals over the last three games.
“Their first line has been playing unbelievable,” Doan said. “They’ve got three guys that are playing really well, they’re getting secondary scoring as well from other guys and their back-end has been solid… You can’t get caught in a track meet with them if they’re having as much confidence as they’ve had offensively. It’s something that, as a group, we have to play our game and not get caught up in what they’re doing.”
The Maple Leafs are hoping to get center Tim Connolly back tonight. Connolly has missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury.
“I've seemed to really turn a corner here and it's only a matter of days before I'm back ready to go,” Connolly told the team's official Web site on Monday.