COYOTES (29-24-11) at LIGHTNING (34-24-6)
Season series: This is the second of two games between the Phoenix Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata combined for two goals and eight assists as the Coyotes beat the Lightning 6-3 at Jobing.com Arena on Nov. 16.
Big story: The Coyotes lost ground in the Western Conference race Saturday after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead to the Washington Capitals, coupled with a rally by the Dallas Stars against the Minnesota Wild. They'll try to rebound against the Lightning, who are 0-1-1 since the trade of Martin St. Louis and return of Steven Stamkos.
Coyotes: It took a span of barely over five minutes for everything to go from cruise control to disaster for Phoenix, which sits three points behind Dallas for the second wild-card berth in the West. The Coyotes let a 2-0 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining slip away, giving up three goals in 5:02 for a 3-2 loss to the Capitals.
The Coyotes and Stars each have 18 games remaining, and Phoenix continues a road trip with games on consecutive nights against Tampa Bay and the Florida Panthers.
"If the message doesn't start getting through here, we'll have an early spring," Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Saturday's loss. "That's just the way it goes."
Phoenix has scored 47 power-play goals, which is tied for third-most in the League. The team's 19.2 power-play percentage on the road ranks 11th among all teams.
Goalie Mike Smith posted a 2.85 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in 118 games with the Lightning from 2007-11. He will make his fifth consecutive start in this game.
The Coyotes on Sunday recalled center Andy Miele from the American Hockey League. Miele has posted 23 goals and 35 assists in 56 games for the Portland Pirates this season. He led the team and ranked fifth in the AHL in scoring at the time of his recall.
Defenseman Brandon Gormley will make his NHL debut in this game.
“It’s a special time for me," Gormley said after the morning skate. "You've got to use your opportunity. It’s a big game for the team (too) and fun to be put in that situation.”
The Coyotes selected Gormley with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 Draft.
"His time is now, " Tippett said. "We'll see what he's got."
Lightning: Since opening the month with a victory in Dallas it's been a rocky road for Tampa Bay, which is winless in four (0-3-1) overall and three points clear of ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning have four more dates left on a six-game homestand in which to try to right the ship.
Stamkos, searching for his first point since a nearly four-month layoff due to a broken leg, said he thought the Lightning passed a "character test" in their 4-3 shootout loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday, despite letting leads of 2-0 and 3-2 get away. His coach warned that only counts for so much, though.
"If you want to be a playoff team, you have to close teams out regardless of who you're playing," Head Coach Jon Cooper said in the Tampa Bay Times.
Who's hot: Vrbata has three goals in the past two games for the Coyotes. Defenseman Keith Yandle has one goal and seven assists in the past eight games. … Lightning forward Tyler Johnson set up a shorthanded goal by Ondrej Palat on Saturday to extend his point streak to three games (two goals, one assist).
Injury report: Hanzal (lower body) and defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) are out/day-to-day for Phoenix. … Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas (leg) is day-to-day.
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