March 13, 2015

The Arizona Coyotes may be the only NHL team currently without an All-Star, but their respect is certainly growing around the league.

Riding a season-high seven-game point streak, they'll continue their surprising playoff push Saturday afternoon against a New Jersey Devils team struggling with injuries and a lack of offensive production.

After managing just 56 points to place last in the Western Conference last season, Arizona (22-16-5) is only seven away from matching that total due to a 5-0-2 stretch since Dec. 31. The Coyotes had won a season-high four straight before squandering a two-goal lead in Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit.

Arizona is getting contributions from both old and young in rising to sixth in the West. Longtime captain Shane Doan has scored eight of his team-high 16 goals over an eight-game stretch, while 20-year-old Max Domi has 13 after recording his first career hat trick in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Edmonton. Fellow rookie Louis Domingue is 4-0-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last five starts filling in for an injured Mike Smith.

With the franchise's first playoff berth since 2011-12 in sight, general manager Don Maloney added some depth to the blueline by trading enforcer John Scott to Montreal for defenseman Jarred Tinordi on Friday as part of a three-team deal. The move comes two days after the Coyotes claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers from Columbus.

Scott had been selected an All-Star by fan voting despite having one point in 11 games and being sent to the minors on Wednesday. The career journeyman was slated to captain the Pacific Division team in the Jan. 31 game in Nashville.

"That had nothing to do with this deal whatsoever," Maloney told the Coyotes' official website. "We're in the business of looking after the Coyotes.

We think with Jarred coming in, and Kevin Connauton, we've got two young defensemen that have upside that can help us not only now but down the road as well. We're trying to make our team better and I do think we made ourselves better."

New Jersey (21-19-5) presently sits on the outside of the East's playoff picture, mostly due to an offense that's 29th in the NHL in scoring (2.16 goals per game) and last in shots per game (24.6). The Devils have generated a mere six goals during a 1-5-0 stretch in which they're 0 of 15 on the power play.

Those problems have coincided with Michael Cammalleri, the team's leader with 31 points, having missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury. Patrik Elias (knee), John Moore (lower body), Bobby Farnham (suspension), Jordin Tootoo (undisclosed), Jacob Josefson (foot) and Jiri Tlusty (upper body) also have missed all or part of a four-game trip that concludes Saturday.

The Devils have lost the last two on the trek following Thursday's 3-0 defeat to Colorado.

''You're not going to win any games scoring zero goals,'' said Kyle Palmieri, who leads New Jersey with 17 goals but has gone six straight without one. ''Hopefully one squeezes through and the flood gates open from there.''

New Jersey has been able to rely on Cory Schneider, who's posted a 2.03 GAA despite winning just one of his last five starts. The All-Star goaltender owns a 1.98 GAA on the road and has stellar career numbers in Arizona, having allowed just three goals while going 3-0-1 in four starts.

Schneider made 18 saves and Travis Zajac had a goal and two assists in a 3-2 home victory over the Coyotes on Oct. 20, the Devils' third straight in the series.

You May Like