The Arizona Coyotes, in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division, will look to maintain their strong recent form when they play host to the struggling New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Arizona posted a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, its fourth victory in the past six games. The Coyotes have earned points in 12 of their past 17 games (10-5-2).
However, Arizona has just two victories in its past six home games, and the Coyotes are just 8-7-1 at Gila River Arena this season. However, first place is a lofty perch given that Arizona hasn't been to the postseason since the 2011-12 season.
After a busy schedule of eight games in 14 days, getting in a practice this week was a plus for Arizona, as was the way the team rebounded from a 5-2 home loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
"It's nice to keep those losing streaks so minimum," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "It's nice to keep those subpar efforts to a minimum throughout an 82-game schedule. You're going to have them. It's impossible to play perfect every night. The response to me is a good response from the guys."
Thursday saw center Brad Richardson, a 15-year NHL veteran, score his first goal of the season. He had 19 goals last season for the Coyotes.
"You definitely think about it, and it's in the back of your mind, but I try to just play and eventually you'll get a bounce," Richardson said of the goal drought. "It sucked, that's for sure, and I don't want to have to go through that again."
The Devils are going through lots of days they'd rather forget. After a 3-1 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night in Denver, New Jersey has lost seven straight with one point, gaining just one point in that stretch from a shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Devils, who are 2-9-1 in their past 12 games, lost goaltender Louis Domingue -- a former Coyote -- on Friday to a lower-body injury in the second period. New Jersey's interim head coach, Alain Nasreddine, said postgame that Domingue is day-to-day.
Mackenzie Blackwood, who stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief against the Avalanche, is expected to start in goal against the Coyotes.
"The effort was there," Nasreddine said of the loss to the Western Conference leaders. "I was looking forward to this game. It's not the end result, but the way we played is what we need to bring every night."
The Devils also figure to be without points leader Taylor Hall, who was held out of the Friday game despite not being injured.
Nasreddine called it a "management decision" to hold Hall out, though there has been recent speculation of a trade involving Hall.
Hall leads the team with 19 assists and 25 points while Kyle Palmieri is the Devils' goals leader with 11.
"It's big news, I'm not going to lie, when one of the top players in the league isn't dressing for your team," Nasreddine said.
Nasreddine acknowledged the losing has been difficult on the team.
"Guys are frustrated, but that's the result of not winning many games and not getting the end result you want," he said, adding that he believes the results will come with an effort like Friday's.
--Field Level Media