GLENDALE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Every time it looks like the Florida Panthers might be turning a corner, the team falls back into a slump.
The Arizona Coyotes try to complete a sweep of Sunshine State teams at home when they host the inconsistent Panthers on Monday.
The Coyotes halted a four-game losing streak with Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay and hope to continue their offensive progress against Florida, which is winless on a four-game road trip (0-2-1) that ends in the desert.
Arizona, which entered Sunday 29th in the league in goals per game (2.13), has scored 11 times in its last three contests – and Radim Vrbata has been in the middle of things with six points in the last four matches.
“We moved the puck well,” Vrbata told reporters after the win over Tampa Bay. “We supported it. We made those little plays where you can keep your speed. … It’s fun to play this way because you’re on the puck. You don’t have to chase it.”
The Panthers are just two spots ahead of the Coyotes in scoring after suffering a 2-1 setback at Vancouver on Friday.
“When you are struggling to put pucks in the net, every little mistake seems to go against us,” Florida coach Tom Rowe told reporters after he fell to 9-9-8 since taking over for Gerard Gallant.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN Arizona
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (20-19-9): Leading scorer Vincent Trocheck saw his point and goal-scoring streaks come to an end Friday, but he still has netted six tallies in his last seven contests to lead the team with 17 – four better than Jonathan Marchessault.
Veteran Jaromir Jagr scored his ninth goal of the season and second in four games at Vancouver, moving within three points of 1,900 for his career.
Roberto Luongo likely will get the chance to record his 450th career victory after losing his last three, as backup James Reimer is away from the team to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
ABOUT THE COYOTES (14-26-6): Martin Hanzal and Tobias Rieder each recorded a goal and two assists in the victory over Tampa Bay while Christian Fischer scored in his NHL debut after a strong effort.
“You’re going to see a lot of goals over his career just like that, going hard to the net,” coach Dave Tippett told reporters of Fischer, a 19-year-old former second-round pick. “That’s how he scores.”
All-Star Mike Smith made 45 saves en route to the victory on Saturday and is 5-0-2 this season in games in which he has turned aside at least 40 shots.
- Arizona C Alexander Burmistrov has collected three points in four games since being claimed off waivers from Winnipeg.
- Marchessault (29 points) has not gone more than two straight games this season without getting on the scoresheet.
- The Coyotes have won five of the last seven meetings, and the home team has triumphed in five straight.
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