COYOTES (23-17-9) at FLAMES (16-27-7)
Season series: This is the fourth of five games between the Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames. The Coyotes hold a 2-1-0 advantage, with the home team winning each game. Mike Ribeiro leads all scorers with four points and had the game-winning goal in the Oct. 22 contest.
Big story: While one only spot in the Pacific Division standings separates these teams, the Coyotes remain on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Playoff picture and lead the Flames by 16 points. But while the wins haven't been coming of late, Calgary has put forth strong showings in consecutive 3-2 road losses to the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, getting a point out of the former via the shootout.
Coyotes: This is the start of a three-game road trip for Phoenix, which saw its bid to sweep a three-game homestand come up short Monday in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Coyotes trailed 3-0 after two periods before their specialty teams tried to rally them late, but a Mike Ribeiro power-play goal and Antoine Vermette shorthanded goal weren't enough.
The Coyotes will enter their 50th game of the season four points behind eighth-place Minnesota in the Western Conference standings. While time is slipping away, Head Coach Dave Tippett says the team still must embrace the one-game-at-a-time mentality.
“We’re trying to win the next game,” Tippett said. “You try to win the next game. If you’re worried about long winning streaks right now, you’re not focusing on the one at hand. We’ve got a tough road trip here. We’ll think about the game in Calgary.”
The Coyotes are hoping center Martin Hanzal, who missed Monday’s 4-2 loss to Toronto because of a lower-body injury, can play in this game.
“He’s still the same,” Tippett said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow morning (at the morning skate in Calgary). Hopefully, he's improved overnight. We'll see.”
Flames: Thirty-two games remain in Calgary's season and a significant amount of the focus down the stretch will likely be spent on figuring out what pieces fit moving forward as the Flames attempt to rebuild into an annual postseason contender.
Veteran forward Matt Stajan is one player they've determined they want to keep around. The Flames signed the 30-year-old to a four-year extension worth a reported $12.5 million Monday. Stajan, who is closing in on his 700th NHL game, has seven goals and 17 points in 42 games this season.
"I want to be a part of what's going on here," Stajan said in the Calgary Herald. "We have a lot of promise with young guys. I want to see this through. With (general manager Brian Burke) coming in and running the ship right now and seeing what he's done with previous teams, I'd love to be a part of this. My family loves it in Calgary."
Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has assisted on five goals during a four-game point streak. … Flames defenseman Mark Giordano has two goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.
Injury report: Hanzal (lower body) missed the game Monday and is day-to-day. … Calgary forward Mike Cammalleri (concussion) has missed the past five games. Forward Curtis Glencross (ankle) is on injured reserve.
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