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Coyotes-Blues Preview

Dec 7, 2015 - 9:22 PM The St. Louis Blues are confused as to why they are failing to stick with the game plan while turning in some mediocre hockey over the last few weeks.

They'll try to end a season-high three-game slide Tuesday night by handing the visiting Arizona Coyotes a fifth straight defeat.

St. Louis (15-8-4) finished with one goal for the third straight game in Saturday's 4-1 defeat to Toronto. Vladimir Tarasenko scored his team-high 15th goal 1:51 into the contest as the Blues got off to a good start before faltering the rest of the way to drop to 4-5-3 in their last 12 games.

''It's not the right way to play, the players know it, especially the veteran players,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''I'm not sure what it's going to take for us to get back to what we are capable of. That's why we're a .500 hockey club the last little while.''

The Blues average 6.2 giveaways for one of the league's lowest marks but that figure is up to 9.7 over the last three games. St. Louis last dropped four straight in a 0-3-1 stretch Dec. 18-27.

"I don't know why we want to get cute," center David Backes said. "We've built this thing for a long time on playing the right way, on playing hard-nosed, blue-collar hockey, getting it in, grinding it out, occupying the o-zone and just wearing teams down almost to submission."

The Blues' woes pale in comparison to those of the Coyotes, who have been outscored 20-9 in losing the first four on a five-game trip. Arizona's five-game road slide is its longest since losing seven in a row Feb. 10-March 16.

Sunday's 5-4 loss to Carolina was especially frustrating. Arizona (13-13-1) rallied from a goal down in the final period to take a 4-3 lead only to concede the tying goal with 4:22 to go and the winner with 17 seconds left while being short-handed after Martin Hanzal took a high-sticking penalty with 2:15 remaining.

"It comes right back to where our whole trip has been," coach Dave Tippett told the Coyotes' official website. "We're making some bad mistakes and we have below-average goaltending. It's as simple as that. Poor mistakes and turnovers, bad penalties and our goaltenders haven't cleaned a lot of messes for us. That's where we are."

Anders Lindback faced the Hurricanes after Mike Smith started the first three games of the trip, allowing 11 goals and getting pulled early once.

The Coyotes will count on offense from Max Domi, second among rookies with a team-high 23 points.

They also may give Viktor Tikhonov his first Arizona appearance this season after the winger was claimed off waivers Saturday after playing 11 games for Chicago and failing to register a point.

This is Tikhonov's second stint with the club after he played for it in 2008-09.

St. Louis will be without Steve Ott, who will be sidelined for three months with a hamstring injury suffered in the first period Saturday.

The Blues have outscored the Coyotes 20-5 in winning the last five meetings. Backes had five goals in three games last season.