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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, December 20th (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (6-19-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (16-15-2), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to halt a three-game skid tonight, as they take to the ice against the St. Louis Blues without head coach Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky's mother, Phyllis, died Monday night after a battle with lung cancer. She was 64. Wayne Gretzky announced on Saturday that he was taking an indefinite leave from the team to be with his ailing mother.

Associate coach Rick Tocchet assumed the Coyotes head coach responsibilities in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. Tocchet will serve as the coach until Gretzky returns behind the bench.

On Saturday, Craig Conroy scored a goal and had two assists to lead the Kings past Phoenix.

Brian Boucher allowed four goals on 37 shots in his first start of the year for Phoenix. The backup goaltender had been sidelined all season with a groin injury.

Defenseman Paul Mara scored the lone goal for the Coyotes.

Phoenix begins a two-game homestand tonight and is 9-6-1 at Glendale Arena this year. The Coyotes will also welcome the Sharks on Thursday.

St. Louis has dropped two in a row and five of its last six games. The Blues were last in action Saturday when they were handed a 5-2 loss by the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. R.J. Umberger and Mike Knuble each scored two goals to lead Philadelphia.

Aaron Downey and Scott Young each scored for the Blues, who lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games. St. Louis was also using a backup goaltender, Jason Bacashihua, after placing Curtis Sanford on injured reserve with a hip injury. Bacashihua stopped 22-of-26 shots in the loss.

The Blues also put forwards Dallas Drake and Keith Tkachuk on injured reserve before the game. Drake has a back injury, while Tkachuk is suffering from a broken knuckle.

St. Louis is just 2-8-2 as the visiting team this season.

The Coyotes and Blues have played once this season in Phoenix and the home team pulled out an overtime win. The home team is 5-0-1 (1 tie) in the last six meetings between these teams.

12/20 10:20:20 ET

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