The Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes each have 70 points in their respective conference standings. The difference is that the Coyotes are in a wild-card playoff spot, while the Panthers are not.
Such is the situation when the Panthers visit on Tuesday night in Glendale, Ariz., a game that iscrucial for both teams. The Panthers are just trying to gain ground, while the Coyotes are hoping to maintain or even rise in the standings in a tight West.
The Coyotes are coming off a season high output of seven goals in their 7-3 blowout of one of the East's best teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Saturday. Arizona had lost two straight on the road and was playing its fourth game in six days, but had the energy on full blast in scoring four unanswered goals.
The seven goals marked a season high and the first time the Coyotes had scored that many since Oct. 27, 2018, also against Tampa Bay.
"I think for the first couple shifts we kind of got back to our game there," said forward Clayton Keller, who scored two goals. "I thought we played pretty well for the rest of the game and played our style of hockey. It's good to see us score some goals."
Conor Garland, Arizona's goals leader with 22, also scored twice.
While the Coyotes are down a couple of key contributors with injuries -- namely defensemen Jakob Chychrun and Jason Demers and forward Christian Fischer -- one major force for the team is poised to return.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper was called up from AHL Tucson on Sunday and could play against the Panthers, which would be his first game in more than two months due to a lower-body injury.
Kuemper was 15-8-2 with an outstanding 2.17 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 25 starts this season before his injury.
No team has played more games than Arizona's 65 so far this season.
The Panthers are 2-4 in their last six games and 3-8 in their last 11. They wrap up a five-game Western swing against the Coyotes, after falling 5-3 at Vegas on Saturday night to move to 2-2 in the current rip.
"We're still in that mix, and now we've got to control our own fate by what we do," coach Joel Quenneville told the team website "We've had a couple frustrating losses here in a row, so let's turn it over into a positive going into Arizona and look to finish the trip above .500."
The Panthers were four games out of a tie for a wild-card spot in the East going into Monday. With an eye toward the future, they made a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes -- currently a wild-card team -- on Monday.
The Panthers got forwards Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and defenseman Chase Priskie from the Hurricanes for forward Vincent Trocheck, who has 36 points (10 goals) this season. Luostarinen and Priskie are expected to report to Florida's AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Haula has appeared in 41 games with Carolina and has tallied 22 points (12 goals).
General Manager Dale Tallon said in the trade announcement that the Panthers will "continue our quest to make the playoffs this season."
--Field Level Media