By Dave Vest
The Coyotes, with their first NHL playoffs berth since 2001-02 firmly secured, will host the Colorado Avalanche tonight in front of a sellout crowd at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
The Coyotes officially qualified for the playoffs on Saturday afternoon when the Boston Bruins beat the Calgary Flames 5-0. The Flames are the ninth-place team in the Western Conference with 83 points and only seven games left.
Phoenix (46-22-6) will enter the game in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 98 points. Colorado (41-25-7) is in seventh place with 89 points.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan
said. “...It’s a big night and we want to find a way to win… Obviously, we are battling with Colorado. There are so many teams right around us (in the standings) and we’ve got to make sure we keep winning.”
The Coyotes, who have lost two straight games, did not practice on Friday nor did they have a morning skate on Saturday.
is expected to start in goal for Phoenix, which is hoping to even the season series vs. Colorado at two games apiece. The home team has won the first three games.
Colorado has lost three of its past four games. It last played on Wednesday and beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, in a shootout. In that game, the Avs broke a 0-for-11 drought on the power play by going 2 for 6.
Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson has been impressed by Phoenix’s 9-1-1 record since adding five players just before the trade deadline.
“They’ve got some good players over there and a good coaching staff,” Anderson told the Avalanche’s official Web site. “I think sometimes you just gel together as a team and right now they’re doing it. They’re playing great hockey right now.”
Tonight's game will be aired on 550 (AM) KFYI instead of XTRA Sports 910 (AM).