March 7, 2023 | 7:00 p.m. MST | Mullett Arena | Tempe, Ariz.
TV: Bally Sports Arizona | Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (English) / KHOV 105.1 FM (Spanish)
The Arizona Coyotes are back in action Tuesday and meet the St. Louis Blues for the third and final time this season.
Arizona won the first meeting of the season 5-0 on Jan. 26 at Mullett Arena, while St. Louis clinched an overtime win in game two at home 6-5 on Feb. 11.
Forward Nick Schmaltz has recorded four goals and four assists in the last two games he has played against the Blues, scoring his first hat-trick of his career on January 26. Those eight points are the most by an NHL skater against the Blues this season, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen.
Karel Wejmelka He is expected to start at the net tonight and the 26-year-old keeper has played well at home this season. In 19 games at Mullett Arena, Vejmelka is 10-6-2 with an average of 3.02 goals conceded and a save of .915.
He has played both games against the Blues this season and scored one of his three shutouts this season on January 26.
Tuesday marks the third of four straight home games for the Coyotes, who most recently recovered from a two-goal deficit in the third period against the New Jersey Devils to force overtime on Sunday. Although they eventually lost the game in extra time, head coach André Tourigny said the game was an important step for the team to overcome the emotions of last week’s close.
“At this point, after the trading deadline, it’s more about us,” he said. “It’s about us bringing consistency to our game, getting used to playing together and getting our game back to the pace that we had against New Jersey in the third half.”
Player to watch: None other than Schmaltz, whose 19 goals this season are just four shy of his career high last year. The 27-year-old has recorded nine goals and 18 assists in his career against the Blues, which is the most points he has scored against any team in the league.
ABOUT THE BLUES
St. Louis is sixth in the Central Division, seven points ahead of Arizona, but has lost seven of its last eight games. Forward Jordan Kyrou leads this season with 56 points and 26 goals, while Robert Thomas leads the team with 37 assists.
The Blues play the goalkeeping tandem of Jordan Binnington and Thomas Griess; Binnington is 21-22-5 with 3.28 GAA and 0.895 SV% while Greiss is 6-8-0 with 3.51 GAA and 0.900 SV%. The latter was in the net in the team’s most recent win, a 6-3 decision over the San Jose Sharks on March 2.
“You have high-end players who can play out of thin air,” Tourigny said. “They have great defenders who are not easy to play against.”
St. Louis doesn’t generate as many shots on goal as some of Arizona’s past opponents, but they do have high conversion rates from those who take them. Although the Blues rank 29th in the NHL for total shots on target, their shot conversion percentage of 10.6 ranks them seventh.
Tuesday’s game concludes with three games for St. Louis, who return home on Thursday to host San Jose.
Player to watch: Keep an eye on winger Pavel Buchnevich, who has nine points in his last five games. The 27-year-old forward has three assists in a game against Arizona and five goals and seven assists in ten career games against the Coyotes this year.