Blues look to keep down reeling Coyotes

NHL Hockey

The Western Conference’s top team hopes to build on an eight-game winning streak when the St. Louis Blues visit the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday.

No NHL team is hotter than the Blues (26-8-6), who have outscored opponents 33-16 during the winning streak and are coming off a 4-1 victory against the contending Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.

“We’re just finding different ways to win,” forward Jaden Schwartz told the Blues website earlier this week. “Our special teams has been good. I think we’re just aggressive. … We’re just frustrating other teams and making it hard on their top players and we’re spending some time in the (offensive) zone and kind of wearing teams down. We’re playing tight, aggressive and together, and it looks pretty quick and fast that way.”

Schwartz has a six-game point streak — four goals and seven assists — after his two goals against the Jets.

The defending Stanley Cup champions can reach what would be a franchise-record 57 regular-season wins for the calendar year of 2019 if they defeat the Coyotes.

The Blues are rolling. Center Brayden Schenn has eight points in five games. Captain Alex Pietrangelo set the franchise record for assists (326) by a defenseman and has seven points in four games. Forward David Perron has 10 points in a six-game point streak.

The Coyotes (21-16-4) have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season after Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. They led 2-0 before surrendering four unanswered goals, all in the third period.

The Coyotes have lost seven of their last nine home games. Despite being tied for second place in the Pacific Division, they are 8-10-1 at home with their next three games at Gila River Arena.

And to add to the recent issues, the Stars did a number on the Coyotes in the hits department, dishing out 39 to Arizona’s 30 in a physical game that saw center Derek Stepan leave in the second period with an upper-body injury courtesy of a violent shot from the Stars’ Jamie Oleksiak.

“I thought they came out pushing us a little bit more in the third and we couldn’t really handle them,” Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson told reporters of the Stars. “We couldn’t find a way to beat their forecheck or get the puck deep or whatever we had to do. We have to find a way to close that one out and it’s a big game for us and we came out like that in the third.”

Coach Rick Tocchet said the current stretch of games should be treated like the playoffs for a Coyotes team that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2012. He’s hoping his team responds to the challenge.

Sunday’s result, he said, was a matter of three mistakes to allow the Dallas goals — the fourth was an empty-netter.

“You’ve got to suck it up. You’ve got to take hits and get up,” Tocchet said. “Get up and get to the net.”

–Field Level Media

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