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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (18-10-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-16-3), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling clubs in desperate need of a win will meet Thursday, as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Phoenix Coyotes at Air Canada Centre.

Both the Coyotes and Maple Leafs are coming off consecutive 3-1 losses and those two-game slides are part of a larger trend for the scuffling teams. Phoenix has lost four of six and eight of its past 12 games, while the Leafs have dropped five of six and 10 of the last 13.

One positive for Phoenix heading into tonight's meeting is the fact that the Coyotes have been successful against the Maple Leafs recently, winning six straight in the series overall and three in a row in Toronto. The Leafs haven't beaten the Coyotes since winning in Phoenix on Oct. 23, 2003.

The lone bright spot for Toronto over the last six games was Saturday's 7-3 home win against Chicago, but the Leafs have gone without a point in two outings since that rout of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Toronto lost Monday in Pittsburgh by a 3-1 margin and lost by the same score the following night against visiting Florida.

Mason Raymond tallied the lone goal for the Maple Leafs in Tuesday's setback against the Panthers, while James Reimer allowed all three goals on 23 shots.

"I think fatigue seemed to play a part tonight more so than last night's performance. We started flat and didn't have any energy to get involved. All the 50-50 pucks that were available to us, I would say they won the majority of them," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle.

It was the third loss in four home games for the Leafs, who are now 11-8-0 on home ice this season. Toronto is currently in the midst of a three-game homestand that will end Saturday against Detroit.

Phoenix is playing the second test of a four-game road trip tonight and lost for the third time in four away contests after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in Montreal. The setback dropped the Coyotes to 8-7-3 as the road team this season compared to a stout 10-3-2 mark in the desert.

The Coyotes carried a 1-0 lead into the third period of Tuesday's game against the Canadiens, but Montreal scored three unanswered tallies over the final 20 minutes to skate away with the win. The Habs scored the first two goals of their rally on the power play and Max Pacioretty sealed the victory with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

Mikkel Boedker notched the Coyotes' lone goal, while Mike Smith stopped 25-of- 27 shots for Phoenix, which still hasn't won in Montreal since Oct. 28, 1996.

"We took two penalties in the third period and they capitalized," Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said. "That was the difference in the game."

The Coyotes will continue their road trip Saturday in Ottawa before closing the swing Monday against Buffalo.

12/19 11:16:05 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
1st Intermission
CAR 1
STL 2
 
2nd
PHI 57
MIN 59
 
1st
BOS 21
HOU 29
 
1st
ATL 24
POR 24
 
1st
CLE 30
SAC 20
 
1st
BRK 23
TOR 24
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
DAL
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
LAC
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
GSW
10:30pm Tonight
PHO
CHI
2nd
PRIN 72
HARV 75
 
2nd
CORN 30
BRO 28
 
Half
PENN 20
DART 16
 
Half
NIAG 21
MAR 24
 
Half
CAN 33
QUIN 25
 
Half
MAN 43
SIENA 41
 
8:00pm Tonight
WILL
IUPUI
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAIR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ARST
OREG
8:00pm Tonight
CLMB
YALE
 
10:00pm Tonight
BUF
KSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
ORST
1st Intermission
NJD 0
PIT 0
 
1st Intermission
CAR 1
STL 2
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
BUF
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI