Coyotes-Maple Leafs Preview
It took a late scoring outburst capped by Mikkel Boedker to lift the Arizona Coyotes out of their recent doldrums.
Boedker will try to keep his team’s momentum going when it continues a five-game trip Monday night against the scuffling Toronto Maple Leafs.
Arizona had gone through an 0-3-1 stretch and was 0-1-1 on its trek before a 4-1 victory against Ottawa on Saturday. Brad Richardson started a spurt of three goals in the final 5 1/2 minutes before Boedker tallied the final two for his second career hat trick.
Anders Lindback made 35 saves in his first start for the Coyotes (4-3-1).
"(Snapping the losing streak) was real important, especially on a longer road trip," said Boedker, who had one goal and one assist in his first seven games. "I think that was real important for us as a group to show that we can win on the road and we can win tight games and that feels really good. I think we can bring that on to Toronto."
The Coyotes are 4-0-1 in their last five visits to Toronto and 8-1-1 in the past 10 overall matchups after winning both last season. This time, they’ll take on a team that’s started 1-4-2 in coach Mike Babcock’s first season and has dropped three in a row.
The Maple Leafs trailed for the final 49-plus minutes in a 5-3 loss to unbeaten rival Montreal on Saturday, allowing four second-period goals in the finale of a four-game trip.
Toronto will get to play five of its next six on home ice, with the lone road game against the New York Rangers on Friday. The matchup with Arizona is the Leafs’ first home game since Oct. 10, but Babcock acknowledges that stretch doesn’t mean much if his team doesn’t perform well.
"When you don’t play good, sometimes it’s harder to play at home," he said. "The way I look at it, let’s just keep getting better. Let’s not worry about anything else. Let’s worry about this room and getting better each and every day and you’ll be amazed at what happens."
The game will feature two of the league’s lesser power-play units. Toronto is 2 for 21 (9.5 percent) and Arizona 3 for 34 (8.8). The Coyotes, though, have killed off 83.9 percent of their penalties, while the Leafs are toward the bottom of the league at 75.0.
Arizona scored just one of its six goals against Toronto last season with a man advantage, the final tally in a 3-1 victory at Toronto on Jan. 29. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s short-handed score was the first of the Coyotes’ three goals in the third period.
Martin Hanzal also found the net in that game, giving him five goals and five assists in eight career meetings. The center hasn’t scored a goal this season but is tied for the team points lead with nine assists.
It’s unclear when Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette will return after ending his run of 482 consecutive games Saturday, the NHL’s second-longest active streak. Vermette has a lower-body injury that caused him to leave two previous contests.