By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will look to snap a two-game losing streak tonight when they host the New York Islanders at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (19-17-5) last played on Thursday and lost, 1-0 in overtime, to the Los Angeles Kings. That followed a 4-1 defeat at St. Louis on Tuesday.
Goalie Mike Smith
, who stopped 27 shots in the game vs. LA, will be back in goal for the Coyotes, who have lost six of their past seven games (1-4-2). Smith has won both of his career games against the Islanders, stopping 66 of 68 shots in those games.
The Coyotes are just 1-4-1 in their last six games at home, and have scored two goals or fewer in five of those games.
“We know our home record is unacceptable and we're looking to turn that around and it all starts (Saturday),” center Kyle Chipchura
The Coyotes will play minus defenseman Adrian Aucoin
, who is nursing an injury suffered in Thursday’s game.
Aucoin was struck by a puck above the right eye and the swelling is limiting his vision. Derek Morris
, who has been a healthy scratch the past few weeks, is expected to replace Aucoin. Meanwhile, Phoenix also will play minus centers Martin Hanzal
(upper-body injury) and Boyd Gordon
(lower-body injury). Both are on the injured-reserve list but both recently have started skating.
|Photo by Getty Images.
On the plus side, Coyotes forward Raffi Torres
will be back in the lineup after serving two-game suspension handed down by the NHL after a hit on Minnesota's Nate Prosser in a game played on New Year's Eve.
The Islanders (14-18-6) will enter the game less than 24 hours after losing, 4-2, to the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin scored for New York, which led 2-1 after two periods.
“We did a good job for two periods, frustrating them and kind of letting them sleep,” Martin told reporters. “But then we gave them too much time and space (with the puck) in the third period and kind of let them build momentum for themselves.”
New York ranks 29th in the NHL in goals scored with 90. Only the LA Kings have lit the lamp less (88).
Goalie Evgeni Nabokov is likely to start his eighth straight game. Nabokov is 13-2-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average and five shutouts in his last 19 starts - all with San Jose - against the Coyotes.
The Islanders are dead last in the Eastern Conference standings despite having won three of their past four games and also despite having the League’s seventh-best power-play unit (19.4 percent).