The Arizona Coyotes make their 11th attempt at becoming the last team in the NHL to gain a victory this season when they visit the surging New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Coyotes got another tally from prized rookie center Clayton Keller before dropping a 5-2 decision against the New York Rangers on Thursday, allowing at least four goals for the fourth straight time and eighth in 10 games.
First-year Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said he’s proud of the way his team is battling with the situation they’ve been put in, but it has been difficult with No. 1 goalie Antti Raanta out since Oct. 12 because of a lower-body injury. “You can’t give them freebies,” Tocchet told reporters after the Coyotes allowed the first goal for the seventh time in 10 games Thursday. “It’s hard because you’re chasing the game. Now we have to get away from our system and chase sticks because we’re down.” The Devils, who have missed the playoffs the last five seasons, edged Ottawa 5-4 in a shootout Friday after enjoying a week off for their seventh win in nine games to start the campaign. Left wing Taylor Hall and rookie defenseman Will Butcher each notched an assist in the victory and lead the way with 10 points apiece for New Jersey, which won Friday despite giving up two goals in the final 1:15 of regulation.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona Plus, MSG Plus (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (0-9-1): Keller has had his issues like any rookie on a struggling team with a minus-11 rating, but the 19-year-old has four goals and three assists over the last four contests and Tocchet played him 21:45 against the Rangers. Max Domi recorded six assists over the last seven games and owns eight points - three behind Keller for the team lead - while veteran center Derek Stepan has seven. Forward Brendan Perlini returned to the lineup Thursday after missing six games with an upper-body injury and was a plus-1 with three shots in 14:36 of ice time.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (7-2-0): Backup Keith Kinkaid made his second straight start in net against Ottawa and could get a third, but No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider (lower-body) might be available Saturday after being with his wife for the birth of the couple’s second child Friday. Brian Gibbons, who spent the last two seasons in the minors, scored his team-leading fourth goal against Ottawa and owns a plus-7 rating while fellow forward Jimmy Hayes recorded his first tally since the season opener. Right wing Kyle Palmieri (lower-body) was scratched Friday and is questionable for the Arizona game.
1. New Jersey’s rookie LW Jesper Bratt had an assist Friday for his first point since posting six in the first three games of the season.
2. The Devils have won five of the last six meetings, but dropped the last matchup at Arizona 5-4 in March.
3. The Coyotes are 4-for-32 on the power play since converting two of four opportunities in the season opener at Anaheim.
PREDICTION: Coyotes 4, Devils 3