By Dave Vest
Not long ago, a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs would have been just what the Coyotes, or any other NHL team, would welcome after a humbling defeat. But suddenly, the Maple Leafs, who lost their first eight games of the season, have won seven of their past 10 and four in a row at home to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Coyotes (19-12-2) will attempt to end that streak on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
"They look like a team that is playing with some confidence," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said of the Maple Leafs (12-14-7). "We'll have to be ready for a very confident team."
This game is the second of four road games in six days for Phoenix, which started the trip with a 3-2 loss at Detroit on Monday.
is expected to make his 14th consecutive start in goal for the Coyotes as they try to snap out of a funk on the road. Phoenix has posted a 1-3-2 record in its past six games away from Glendale.
Forward Scottie Upshall
said the Coyotes must start the game well.
"This is a great building to play in, so if we can get the crowd out of it and minimize them as quick as we can, it's going to be good," Upshall said.
Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala has won four of his past five starts and has given up just 13 goals in those five games.
"It's huge when you start to trust your goaltender, other things start to fall into place, you get more offensive opportunities," Maple Leafs Head Coach Ron Wilson told reporters. "The defensemen aren't worried about making mistakes and, thereby, don't make as many, generally."
Phoenix has won each of the past three games vs. the Maple Leafs, outscoring them 15-7 in those games.