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Struggling Coyotes visit struggling Leafs

Brendan Gallagher Mike Smith

Montreal Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher celebrates a goal by Andrei Markov against Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, in Montreal. Montreal won 3-1. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)


There’s struggling, and then there’s struggling.

In the case of tonight’s game between Phoenix and Toronto, the italics version applies to the Maple Leafs, who’ve managed just three regulation wins in their last 21 games.

However, with a 4-6-2 record in their last 12 games and two straight regulation losses, the non-italics version certainly applies to the Coyotes, whose struggles have taken them out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

“We made mistakes, took some bad penalties,” Mike Ribeiro said after the Coyotes dropped a 3-1 decision Tuesday in Montreal.

Phoenix has also had trouble converting on its once-potent power play, going just 2-for-19 in its last six games.

“Special units are part of the game, and if you can’t get them to click, oftentimes you’ll lose the game,” said Ribeiro.

The Coyotes do have a good opportunity to regain some momentum prior to the holiday break. Though all three of their games are on the road, their opponents -- Toronto, Ottawa, and Buffalo -- are hardly the cream of the NHL’s crop.