January 3, 2023 | 5:00 p.m. MST | FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, Florida.
TV: Bally Sports Arizona | Radio: ESPN 620AM
The Arizona Coyotes continue their four-game road trip in Florida to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Arizona and Florida play for the second and final time this season as the Coyotes won the first game 3-1 on Nov. 1 in what was their first win ever at Mullett Arena.
Forward Nick Richie potted the game winner in that game, and he’s been heating up lately with four assists in his last five games. The 27-year-old forward has traditionally played well against the Panthers, recording four goals and one assist in his last six games against them.
Karel Wejmelkawho made 30 saves Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, is expected to start for Arizona on Tuesday. He’s 11-10-4 with two shutouts, a 3.16 clean sheet average and a .907 save in 26 games this season and was in the net when Arizona beat Florida in November.
Forward Lawson Crouse has been heating up lately with five points in his last three games and a goal against the Panthers earlier this season.
Player to watch: Nick Bjugstad has scored in consecutive games and with four points in his last three games he’s someone to watch. The 30-year-old forward was drafted 19th overall by the Panthers in the 2010 NHL Draft and played 394 games in Florida from 2012-13 to 2018-19.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
Florida has lost two games in a row by a 9-3 aggregate record and has lost five of its last six overall. The Panthers currently sit seventh in the Atlantic Division, despite only three points separating them from third.
Goalie Spencer Knight, who has been at the net for the first time this season, is expected to start again tonight. The 21-year-old former first-round pick has appeared in 17 games this season and has an 8-6-3 record with one shutout, 3.00 GAA and 0.907 SV%.
Forward Matthew Tkachuk leads the Panthers with 43 points and 26 assists, while Carter Verhaeghe leads with 18 goals. Nick Cousins, Sam Bennett and Eric Staal all scored in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers.
Florida, who won the Presidents’ Trophy just a season ago with 122 points in 82 games, has struggled with special teams this season, especially compared to last year. The team’s power play, which finished fifth a season ago, now sits 24th with a 19.29 percent win rate. His penalty shootout isn’t much better at 74.83 percent, ranking 22nd.
Player to watch: Despite being held without a point in his last two games, center Aleksander Barkov still has six points in his last five games, including a three-goal, two-assist performance against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 29. The 27-year-old has 10 points with five goals and five assists in 13 games against the Coyotes.