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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, December 21st (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (18-10-6) at Ottawa Senators (14-17-6), 2 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling clubs will fight for a much-needed win on Saturday afternoon, as the Ottawa Senators welcome the Phoenix Coyotes for a battle at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Coyotes enter Saturday's matinee on a three-game slide and also have dropped five of seven and nine of their last 13 tilts. Ottawa hasn't fared much better recently, losing two straight as part of a 6-10-2 stretch over its last 18 games.

Phoenix has lost the first two tests on a four-game road trip, giving the Coyotes four defeats in their past five games as the guest. The club is only 8-7-4 as the road team this season and will complete the trek Monday in Buffalo.

After dropping a 3-1 decision Tuesday in Montreal, the Coyotes were dealt a 2-1 shootout setback by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul both scored in the shootout to help the Leafs snap a two-game slide with the close win at Air Canada Centre.

Martin Hanzal tied the game late in the third for Phoenix, while Mike Smith stopped 26-of-27 shots through regulation and overtime.

"We wanted to play a hard road game. Our tempo got better as the game went on. We had multiple opportunities in the third period to tie and then take the lead. We got the one we needed," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. "It's a step in the right direction. We're a little banged up and looking for some guys to elevate their game."

Coyotes captain Shane Doan has missed the last six games with an illness that Phoenix has categorized as Rocky Mountain fever. Doan is on medication to battle the bacterial disease and his status is considered week-to-week.

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek will miss a second straight contest today for the Coyotes and is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

The Senators, meanwhile, could be without forward Mika Zibanejad on Saturday after he sustained an upper-body injury in Ottawa's most recent loss, a 4-2 home defeat on Thursday against Florida. Zibanejad, who has eight goals and seven assists this season, is considered day-to-day and will be a game-time decision for this afternoon's tilt.

Ottawa lost its second straight game in regulation on Thursday despite going into the closing minutes of the third period tied with the Panthers. Tom Gilbert scored the go-ahead power-play goal for Florida with 2:32 remaining in the third and Tomas Kopecky added the insurance tally just 51 seconds later with a shorthanded goal.

Chris Neil and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators, who have dropped four of six. Craig Anderson took the loss despite 31 stops.

"It's my job to stop the puck," said Anderson. "It's one of those things where we were there, we were close (to winning). But close isn't good enough."

The Senators, who began a three-game homestand on Thursday, fell to 7-10-3 as the host this season. Ottawa will close the residency when it welcomes Pittsburgh to town on Monday.

Ottawa has gotten the better of the Coyotes in recent years, claiming seven of the past nine overall encounters in this series and winning six straight on home ice. Phoenix's last win in Canada's capital city came on Dec. 12, 1998.

12/21 10:39:19 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
 
4th
CHI 87
NYK 81
 
3rd
HOU 61
NOP 63
 
1st
SAC 14
MIL 4
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
 
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
 
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
2nd
SD 49
MNTST 46
 
2nd
UAB 49
LSU 51
 
2nd
EVAN 44
OHIO 48
 
1st
CSFU 5
CSDH 4
 
1st
ORST 13
DEP 6
 
1st
PAC 5
NEV 6
 
1st
USF 10
PORST 9
 
1st
IDAHO 0
WALLA 0
 
10:15pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 5
3rd
MON 1
ANA 1
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
3rd
JAC 14
TEN 10