By Dave Vest
The Coyotes are hosting the Dallas Stars tonight at Jobing.com Arena in the team’s final home game before a hectic six-game trip. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
“It’s a very important game,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “It’s a home game before we go on the road so we want to make sure we’re playing well at home. We haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted at home here the last couple (of games) so it will be a very important game for us. We have to establish home ice as a hard place for teams to come in and play and we have to get our points.”
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to watch a video of Tippett answering questions after Friday's practice.
is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes (13-8-6), who have lost three home games in a row.
Tonight’s game will be the eighth between these clubs since Tippett, who coached the Stars for six years, signed on to lead the Coyotes just before the 2009-10 season started. Tippett and the Coyotes have posted a 4-3-0 record against Dallas the past two seasons but have lost three of the past four showdowns, including a 6-3 defeat at Dallas on Nov. 5 in the only game between the teams in 2010-11.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes are boasting a healthy roster, including eight defensemen. Two will have to sit tonight along with the extra forward.
The Stars (17-9-2) enter tonight’s game in first place atop the Pacific Division standings, two points ahead of second-place Anaheim and four points ahead of the other three teams, including Phoenix.
Backup goalie Andrew Raycroft, who won the Calder Trophy in 2003-04, will start in goal in place of Kari Lehtonen, who is nursing a back injury. Raycroft made 22 saves on Friday night in Dallas as the Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout.
"Andrew Raycroft was just outstanding," Stars Head Coach Marc Crawford told reporters after the game. "Tonight, we only needed the one goal, so that's great when you've got your goaltender playing as well as Andrew Raycroft played for us. It's a huge two points."
Raycroft has posted a 4-2-0 record, 1.90 goals-against average and one shutout in seven appearances.