BLUES (39-14-6) at COYOTES (27-22-11)
Season series: This is the third and final game this season and the first at Jobing.com Arena. The St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes split the first two, with T.J. Oshie scoring twice to lead St. Louis past Phoenix, 2-1, in the most recent encounter on Jan. 14.
Big story: Having lost three straight road games (0-2-1), the Coyotes are playing their first home game since Feb. 7. They will enter the game in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, but just one point behind eighth-place Dallas.
Coyotes: Phoenix has lost three straight games, all away from Jobing.com Arena, to drop into a crowded group vying for the final Western playoff spots.
The eighth through 11th-placed teams – the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and the Coyotes – are separated by two points, and Phoenix is a point behind Vancouver for fourth place in the competitive Pacific Division. If the Coyotes win tonight, they will jump those teams in the standings and take over eighth place.
"You look at the last 10 games (and) we’re 4-4-2,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Middle of the pack in all kinds of stats. We’ve been a team that’s been able to overachieve from that middle, and right now we haven’t been able to get on top of that.”
In its most recent outing Friday, Phoenix fell 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes outshot the Avalanche 42-33, including 19 shots in the third period, but were unable to close the gap.
"We have to build on the positive things we’re doing and try to enhance those and see if we can find ways to get wins,” Tippett said. "It’s how you get to the winning part of it. If you don’t focus on some of the positive things you’re doing, then those will go away.”
Smith is looking to build on momentum gained in the month of February when he stopped 95.5 percent of the shots he faced in five games. Only Montreal’s Carey Price (.960) had a better save percentage last month.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 22, needs just one more point to reach 100 in his brief NHL career.
Blues: Goaltender Ryan Miller will make his Blues debut in this game.
On Friday, the Buffalo Sabres dealt their longtime franchise player, along with Sabres captain Steve Ott, to St. Louis in exchange for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, a prospect and draft picks.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to have a new adventure, a new opportunity," Miller told reporters Friday. "I have a strong sense that they have a special team, that they work hard. I know some of the guys on the team with the USA [Olympic] program, and they have a very strong competitive spirit."
The Blues will be focused on avoiding their first three-game losing streak of the season. They have not scored since NHL play resumed, dropping back-to-back 1-0 contests to Western rivals Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks.
"We've just got to put a couple in the net and we'll get going," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said.
Who's hot: Shane Doan scored twice Friday in Colorado and has 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 69 career games versus St. Louis... Miller is 6-0-0 with a 1.15 goals-against average in his career against the Coyotes.
Injury report: For the Blues, defenseman Jordan Leopold (ankle) and Vladimir Sobotka (knee) are day-to-day. … Phoenix is boasting a healthy lineup.
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