The Arizona Coyotes’ positive vibes from ending a three-game losing streak were short-lived, but they’ll get another chance against the team they beat most recently.
The Coyotes look to extend their dominance over the Florida Panthers when they continue a four-game road trip Thursday night.
Arizona (3-4-1) used a pair of power-play goals and Mike Smith’s 23 saves to snap an 0-2-1 skid with a 2-1 overtime win against Florida on Saturday. When he returned to the net for the opener of the trip Tuesday, Smith gave up six goals on 33 shots before being pulled in the third period in a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
"It’s the whole group, not Mike," coach Dave Tippett said. "There is no excuses here. We didn’t play well. Simple as that."
It was the third time this season that the Coyotes have yielded at least six goals. Their 31 goals allowed give them one of the highest totals in the Western Conference.
"It’s frustrating," captain Shane Doan said. "I think this is the third game where we’ve given up way too many goals. As a professional hockey player, you get embarrassed. You have to be embarrassed."
Doan and his teammates will try to bounce back against the Panthers (2-2-3), whom they’ve gone 6-0-1 against in the last seven matchups with a series-best four consecutive wins. The Coyotes have also won three consecutive road games over the Panthers.
Smith is expected to get another start and is 4-0-0 with a 1.06 goals-against average in his last four meetings with Florida, allowing one goal in each. He made 31 saves in Arizona’s latest visit, a 3-1 victory March 11.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who had the winning goal Saturday, scored in the second period of that game. He has two goals and two assists in four career matchups, and Keith Yandle, Arizona’s leader with eight points, has seven assists in seven lifetime meetings.
The Panthers haven’t played since Saturday’s loss, which wrapped up a 2-0-2 road trip. They’ve lost their two home games and are trying to avoid their worst start there since beginning 0-3-1 in 2001-02.
"There were a lot of positives obviously. We got six out of eight points, which is really good," coach Gerard Gallant said. "It was a good trip. The guys feel really good about themselves. Now, we’ve got to make sure we take care of business at home."
Florida has given up a league-low five even-strength goals but has one of the worst penalty kill percentages at 73.0. The Panthers have allowed four goals in the 13 times they’ve been short-handed in the last two games.
Arizona’s opponents are 1 for 13 on the power play in the last four games, and the team has one of the league’s best conversion rates with a man advantage at 26.7 percent (8 for 30).
Florida has scored two goals or fewer in six of its seven games with the lone exception being a 4-3 overtime win in Colorado on Oct. 21.
Brandon Pirri has scored a goal in each of the last two contests, and he has three goals in five career matchups with Arizona, his most against any opponent.