Season series: The Colorado Avalanche are making their first of two trips to the desert this month. The Phoenix Coyotes won the only previous meeting between the teams this season, 3-2 in overtime on Feb. 11 in Denver.
Big story: Anyone who thought the Coyotes were throwing in the towel by trading a trio of 30-something veterans at the deadline on Wednesday was disabused of that theory Thursday night, when the Coyotes put together a solid effort in a 4-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. Phoenix enters the night four points out of the final playoff spot and will face a Colorado team playing the second of a back-to-back -- the Avalanche lost 3-2 in overtime to Detroit at home on Friday.
Coyotes: Phoenix beat two opponents on Thursday -- the Red Wings and the flu bug. Third-string goaltender Chad Johnson got the start when backup Jason LaBarbera got sick after the morning skate; defenseman David Schlemko fell ill in the afternoon, tried to play but had to leave the game. But after allowing the Wings to take an early lead, the Coyotes scored three unanswered goals in the second period, during which they outshot Detroit 20-5.
"That was one of the more amazing wins I've ever been around," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I don't know what happened, but during the afternoon, we had five or six guys that were throwing up on the way to the game. That's the first game I think I've ever coached with two buckets beside me on the bench."
Goalie Mike Smith, who has been on the injured reserve list since being charged behind the net by Vancouver's Alex Edler on March 21, will return to the net tonight.
“I expect him to play like a No. 1 goaltender,” Tippett said of Smith. “Last year, he missed a few games and when he came back we went on a run and we’re looking for the same thing to happen now.”
Smith is 7-1-1 with a 1.59 goals-against average vs. the Avs in his career.
"It's obviously a frustrating time to be out of the lineup," Smith said. "I think this is the time of the year that you want to be part of games, you want to help the team win, help the team get into the playoffs, and obviously it's been frustrating for me to be out this long."
Avalanche: Though the Avalanche are last in the overall standings, they did a lot of things right against the Red Wings, including outshooting Detroit 16-6 in the third period and scoring the tying goal with 13:21 left in regulation.
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made the best of his 28 saves by stopping Henrik Zetterberg's overtime breakaway, but the Avalanche had to settle for a single point when Pavel Datsyuk scored with 16 seconds left in OT.
"It's unfortunate we weren't able to come up with the extra point," coach Joe Sacco said. "We battled tonight. We competed at a high level."
Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has back-to-back multiple-point games... PA Parenteau had the tying goal for Colorado on Friday and leads the Avalanche with 37 points in 37 games.
Injury report: … Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) are day-to-day... Colorado is missing forward Milan Hejduk (shoulder), Paul Stastny (foot) and Steve Downie (season-ending knee surgery -- all are on injured reserve, as is defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle). Forward David Jones is still nursing a knee injury.
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