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Toronto Maple Leafs at Arizona Coyotes preview: Desert showtime

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs (30-16-8) at Arizona Coyotes (23-28-4)

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Starting Time/Venue: 8 p.m. MST at Mullett Arena in Tempe, AZ

In one of the most highly-anticipated games of their 2023-24 season to date, the Arizona Coyotes will host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Tempe.

The ‘Yotes have lost 10 consecutive games, with their last result ending with a 6-3 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers. Nick Bjugstad scored twice while Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist.

Arizona were leading 3-2 at the end of the second period, but Edmonton scored four goals in the third. With the loss, the Coyotes have the longest active losing streak in the NHL currently (0-9-1).

Between this result and other teams around them winning, the ‘Yotes find themselves 27th in the league standings overall.

Trying to get back into winning ways, Arizona welcome a Maple Leafs team who they have a 20-year record of 18-4-2 against since 2004. Last season, the Coyotes swept the season series 2-0 after claiming a 4-2 win in Toronto on Oct. 17, 2022 before a 6-3 home victory on Dec. 29, 2022.

But as the ‘Yotes have struggled mightily lately, this game could go either way despite the numbers and statistics saying otherwise.

Maple Leafs Notes

With Toronto in town, two players will return to where their hockey roots began.

Scottsdale native Auston Matthews makes yet another return to Arizona. The NHL’s leading scorer has 49 goals in just 53 games this season.

Like Matthews, Matthew Knies is expected to play in front of friends and family tonight as he was born in Phoenix and raised in the Valley. Knies will make his first NHL appearance back in his hometown after posting 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) across 52 games into his rookie season.

As for the rest of the Leafs’ elite offense, stars William Nylander has 72 points (29 goals, 43 assists) and Mitch Marner’s total is 65 (22 goals, 43 assists) this season.

Toronto has won four consecutive games and are 8-0-2 in their last 10.

Two games ago, the Maple Leafs destroyed the Anaheim Ducks 9-2 this past Saturday before defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Monday. During this winning streak, Matthews has scored seven goals – including two hat tricks – and added three assists for 10 points.

Toronto is fourth in the NHL with 3.57 goals-for per game while ranked 18th in goals-against per game (3.13).

As for their special teams, the Maple Leafs have the second-best power play (28.4%) in the NHL. On the penalty kill, they are 22nd in the league (77.6%).

Stat Leaders

Goals: Coyotes – RW Clayton Keller: 22 | Maple Leafs – C Auston Matthews: 49

Assists: Coyotes – RW Clayton Keller: 29 | Maple Leafs – RW William Nylander/Mitch Marner: T-43

Points: Coyotes – RW Clayton Keller: 51 (22 goals, 29 assists) | Maple Leafs – C Auston Matthews: 73 points (49 goals, 24 assists)

Injuries

Arizona Coyotes: D Troy Stecher (lower body – IR), C Travis Boyd (upper body – IR), F Liam O’Brien (upper body – IR), G Connor Ingram (lower body – Day-to-Day)

Toronto Maple Leafs: G Joseph Woll (ankle – IR), D Mark Giordano (personal- IR), C Calle Järnkrok (hand – IR), D Conor Timmins (mononucleosis – IR), D John Klingberg (hip – IR), G Matt Murray (hip – IR), D William Lagesson (upper body – Day-to-Day)

3 Maple Leafs with Arizona connections return to face Coyotes

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Reporter Alec Cipollini covers the Arizona Coyotes, Cardinals and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account@AlecCipollini

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