Coyotes-Senators Preview

With their longest slide of the season behind them, the Arizona Coyotes are focused on winning back-to-back games for the first time in a little over a month.

In the process, the visiting Coyotes can avenge a rout they suffered earlier this month by beating the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson recorded a short-handed goal off the opening faceoff of the third period and Arizona (17-25-6) scored twice more to snap an 0-5-2 skid with Thursday’s 3-1 victory at Toronto.

Martin Hanzal banked a puck in off the back of Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier and Sam Gagner added the Coyotes’ first power-play goal in three games on a deflection.

"It’s about time we got a bounce," said Mike Smith, who made 24 saves to snap a six-game losing streak during which he posted a 3.57 goals-against average. "I thought we did a lot of good things and got rewarded for it."

Though the Coyotes’ 40 points are the second-fewest in the Western Conference, they’ve worked hard while scoring three goals in three of their last four contests after being held to a combined five over the previous four.

Gagner added an assist against Toronto to match his point total over the previous nine contests and will now try to help Arizona win two straight for the first time since a three-game run Dec. 23-29.

"Winning is fun, so we have to keep building on this win," said Ekman-Larsson, who leads all NHL defenseman with 13 goals.

Ekman-Larsson was held without a point during a 5-1 home loss against Ottawa (19-19-9) on Jan. 10 that began Arizona’s recent skid.

The Senators fell to 2-3-1 since that victory with Thursday’s 6-3 home loss to Dallas. Though they shut out former captain Jason Spezza in his return to Ottawa, the Senators allowed the Stars to score the first three and last three goals of the game.

"There’s no excuses, we shouldn’t be that slow to start," coach Dave Cameron said. "I thought our whole game was slow, sloppy. It was one of those games we got back into it, but we still didn’t have the jump."

With starter Craig Anderson bothered by a hand injury he suffered while making 37 saves during a 4-3 win over Toronto on Jan. 21, backup Robin Lehner could make a second straight start after stopping 35 shots Thursday.

Lehner, who has never faced Arizona, is 0-4-1 with a 4.12 GAA over his last six games.

"The last few games I’ve played, I work hard and I’m trying to get better and I feel good, but bar in, post in, it hits someone," Lehner said. "It’s just not going my way.

"Obviously, I’ve got to go back and try to get even better. I’ve got to find a way."

Teammate Bobby Ryan, meanwhile, has two goals with seven assists in eight games after recording one of each Thursday. He had an assist at Arizona three weeks ago, and one during last season’s 4-3 overtime home loss to the Coyotes.

Tied for the Coyotes’ lead with 31 points, Antoine Vermette recorded a hat trick in last season’s road victory that helped Arizona snap a six-game losing streak at Ottawa.