The Florida Panthers have mustered five goals during their three-game winless skid and have dropped seven of nine this month. While those numbers are relatively ghastly, they pale in comparison to the season-long issues of Tuesday’s opponent - the host Arizona Coyotes.
The NHL-worst Coyotes sustained their sixth straight loss and ninth in 10 outings after yielding two goals in a 15-second span of the third period in Saturday’s 4-2 setback to Pittsburgh. “It’s been a season like that and it’s going to build character,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’re going to weed this thing out and we’re going to build character on these losses. But they’re tough — I tell you, they’re tough.” The Panthers can relate to that sentiment after surrendering three unanswered goals in the third period and being outshot 20-2 in the session of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Vegas. “Our third period was probably, obviously, the most disappointing period for me in a long time, maybe the season,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN Arizona
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (12-16-5): Radim Vrbata led Arizona with 20 goals last season, but the 36-year-old mustered just his fourth of this campaign - and first since netting a hat trick against Anaheim on Oct. 26 - with a power-play tally versus Vegas. Fellow forward Vincent Trocheck failed to record a shot against the Golden Knights, but notched an assist for his 10th point (three goals, seven assists) in his last eight games. Trocheck’s team-leading 33 points are one better than Jonathan Huberdeau, who has been held off the scoresheet in each of his last three contests after collecting one goal and five assists in his previous three.
ABOUT THE COYOTES (7-23-5): Positives have been few and far between for Arizona, but the struggling club can hang its hat on its penalty kill over the last seven weeks. The Coyotes have killed off 57 of 64 short-handed situations during that stretch, with goaltender Antti Raanta more than picking up the slack with a .932 save percentage on penalty kills. Raanta is bidding for his first win since Nov. 20, but has yielded just eight goals on his last 123 shots faced.
1. Florida LW Jamie McGinn, who was acquired from Arizona in a training-camp trade, has one goal and three assists in his last seven games.
2. Coyotes D Jason Demers, who was included in the McGinn deal, has failed to dent the scoresheet and is a minus-8 during the team’s six-game skid.
3. The Panthers have thwarted all 16 short-handed situations over their last five games.
PREDICTION: Coyotes 2, Panthers 1