NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 19th
(All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (18-10-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-16-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling clubs in desperate need of a win
will meet Thursday, as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Phoenix Coyotes at
Air Canada Centre.
Both the Coyotes and Maple Leafs are coming off consecutive 3-1 losses and
those two-game slides are part of a larger trend for the scuffling teams.
Phoenix has lost four of six and eight of its past 12 games, while the Leafs
have dropped five of six and 10 of the last 13.
One positive for Phoenix heading into tonight's meeting is the fact that the
Coyotes have been successful against the Maple Leafs recently, winning six
straight in the series overall and three in a row in Toronto. The Leafs
haven't beaten the Coyotes since winning in Phoenix on Oct. 23, 2003.
The lone bright spot for Toronto over the last six games was Saturday's 7-3
home win against Chicago, but the Leafs have gone without a point in two
outings since that rout of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Toronto lost
Monday in Pittsburgh by a 3-1 margin and lost by the same score the following
night against visiting Florida.
Mason Raymond tallied the lone goal for the Maple Leafs in Tuesday's setback
against the Panthers, while James Reimer allowed all three goals on 23 shots.
"I think fatigue seemed to play a part tonight more so than last night's
performance. We started flat and didn't have any energy to get involved. All
the 50-50 pucks that were available to us, I would say they won the majority
of them," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle.
It was the third loss in four home games for the Leafs, who are now 11-8-0 on
home ice this season. Toronto is currently in the midst of a three-game
homestand that will end Saturday against Detroit.
Phoenix is playing the second test of a four-game road trip tonight and lost
for the third time in four away contests after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in Montreal.
The setback dropped the Coyotes to 8-7-3 as the road team this season compared
to a stout 10-3-2 mark in the desert.
The Coyotes carried a 1-0 lead into the third period of Tuesday's game against
the Canadiens, but Montreal scored three unanswered tallies over the final 20
minutes to skate away with the win. The Habs scored the first two goals of
their rally on the power play and Max Pacioretty sealed the victory with an
empty-netter in the closing seconds.
Mikkel Boedker notched the Coyotes' lone goal, while Mike Smith stopped 25-of-
27 shots for Phoenix, which still hasn't won in Montreal since Oct. 28, 1996.
"We took two penalties in the third period and they capitalized," Phoenix head
coach Dave Tippett said. "That was the difference in the game."
The Coyotes will continue their road trip Saturday in Ottawa before closing
the swing Monday against Buffalo.
12/19 11:16:05 ET