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Jan 26, 2024 7:08 pm

Coyotes in road rut, while Hurricanes thrive at home

If the Arizona Coyotes are to remain a serious playoff contender, they likely must improve their recent play on the road.

They also haven’t been able to consistently win at Carolina of late.

The Coyotes look to avoid a fifth straight road defeat while trying to keep the Hurricanes from a third consecutive victory Saturday night at Raleigh, N.C.

With the All-Star break next week, Arizona is just outside of wild-card position in the Western Conference, even though it’s 4-7-1 in the new year. The Coyotes have been outscored 17-8 during their 0-3-1 road rut.

On Thursday, Arizona allowed three second-period goals en route to a 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay and dropped to 0-2-0 on a three-game run through the southern United States. Things don’t expect to get any easier at Carolina, where the Hurricanes are 14-5-4, even after splitting their last four on home ice.

“You want to stay in (playoff contention),” Coyotes coach Andrew Tourigny said. “We want to play those pressure games. We are in it right now, and that’s an important one (Saturday).”

Arizona has just two victories in its last eight trips to Carolina. However, one of those wins came in its most recent visit, 4-0 in November 2022. Lawson Crouse scored twice and Karel Vejmelka made 36 saves to earn the shutout.

Arizona last won two straight at Carolina during a three-game winning streak that spanned the 2009-10 to 2013-14 seasons.

Vejmelka, though, has lost four consecutive starts, and owns a 5.15 goals-against average in his last five appearances.

Meanwhile, teammate Connor Ingram (2.59 GAA), yielded a season-high six goals on 37 shots against the Lightning.

Crouse scored Thursday while Arizona star Clayton Keller recorded his 20th goal of the season. Keller has seven goals with seven assists in the last 10 games overall and a modest three points in five career contests versus Carolina.

The Hurricanes posted 3-2 victories on back-to-back nights at Boston and against New Jersey on Thursday. Carolina led 3-0 early in the second period against the Devils then held on to improve to 13-3-4 in their last 20 games.

“It was a great start. I think we were on it right away,” said Carolina’s Jordan Staal, who snapped a 14-game goal drought Thursday.

“It’s always nice to have those leads and try and hold on if you can.”

With his 17th goal Thursday, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho has 29 of his team-leading 54 points in his last 18 games. Aho has posted six goals with five assists in 12 career games against the Coyotes.

Former Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta made 23 saves Thursday and owns a 2.40 GAA while 3-2-1 as a starter in 2024. He’s also 6-0-1 with a 1.84 GAA versus Arizona.

Teammate Pyotr Kochetkov (2.58 GAA) hasn’t played since Jan. 11, but could soon return from concussion protocol.

Spencer Martin, Carolina’s current backup, made 26 saves at Boston on Wednesday and could be an option depending on Kochetkov’s status.

–Field Level Media

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