Coyotes get reinforcements for game vs. weary Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — The Arizona Coyotes (5-9-0) should be well-rested and ready to go tonight as they open a brief two-game road trip by taking on the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night.
The Flames (6-10-1) can't say the same. They're coming off a 1-0 road victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. The player responsible for the lone goal, All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau, suffered a fractured finger after taking a slash to the hand in the third period of Tuesday's game and was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday.
The 23-year-old native of Salem, N.J., who signed a six-year $40.5-million contract extension last month, has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 17 games this season.
After the game, Flames coach Glen Gulutzan told reporters that he's anxious to see how his players will respond less than 24 hours later in front of their hometown fans against the Coyotes.
“Sometimes those things, you can get off to a good start because you've kind of got your motor already running,” said Gulutzan. “We can't look at our situation as far as a negative. We've just got to go in and do the same thing another night against an Arizona team that is waiting for us. We've got to be strong mentally now and just push through these things.”
Goaltender Chad Johnson made Gaudreau's goal stand up against the Wild, stopping 27 shots for his fifth career shutout, enabling the Flames to halt a four-game losing streak. Given the quick turnaround, however, Gulutzan might choose to go back to Brian Elliott in the net vs. Arizona.
The Coyotes (5-9-0) haven't played since dropping a 2-1 decision to the Boston Bruins at home on Saturday night.
They received some good news on Tuesday with the news that center Martin Hanzal and goalie Mike Smith were making the road trip, and coach Dave Tippett confirmed on Wednesday that both will play against the Flames.
Smith hasn't played since Oct. 18 — a span of 12 games — since sustaining an injury to his left knee, while Hanzal has missed the past six contests with an upper-body injury.
“They're two good veteran players,” Tippett said. “Anytime you get your No. 1 goalie back, that gives your club a boost. And Marty Hanzal, we know the importance he has on our team as a centerman just to stabilize us in that position.”
To make room for Hanzal and Smith on the roster, the Coyotes assigned rookie center Christian Dvorak and goalie Justin Peters to the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League.
Tonight will be the first of eight consecutive games for the Coyotes against Pacific Division opponents — the longest such stretch since 2008 and an ideal time for the team to claw its way out of the division basement. The Coyotes were 16-10-3 against Pacific teams last year but have played just twice against division rivals so far this year, going 1-1-0.
“We need to raise our desperation and compete,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “We need to turn it around before things slip away from us.”
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) November 16, 2016
#Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett confirms both Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith will return to the lineup tonight in Calgary.
— Matthew McConnell (@mattycoyotestv) November 16, 2016