By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to three games tonight when they play the Buffalo Sabres at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Both teams will enter the game ranked 10th in their conferences and both are coming off impressive shutout victories on the road on Thursday night.
Phoenix (19-13-8) beat Colorado, 2-0, at the Pepsi Center behind 34 saves from backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
. Buffalo (17-18-5) got 36 saves from Ryan Miller and beat San Jose, 3-0, at the HP Pavilion.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
, who left the team on Thursday because of a medical issue involving a family member, rejoined the club Friday but will not start tonight's game because he is battling the flu. LaBarbera will make his first home start of the season and likely will be kept busy as the Sabres average 33.1 shots on goal per game - fourth most in the NHL.
Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler
did not practice on Friday but is expected to play tonight. Fiddler wowed the coaching staff with hard-nosed, selfless play on Thursday in what Head Coach Dave Tippett called one of Fiddler's best games with the team.
Coyotes center Kyle Turris
skated with teammates on Friday and may return to the lineup after missing Thursday's game because of an upper-body injury suffered in Tuesday's win over Columbus.
|Photo by Getty Images.
A key area to watch tonight will be the faceoff circles. The Coyotes rank fourth in the league at faceoff percentage (52.3) while the Sabres are 26th out of 30 teams at 47.8 percent. However, only two NHL players win more draws than Buffalo center Paul Gaustad (60.2 percent).
Buffalo is 3-0-1 in its past four games.
"That might be our best all-around effort of the year from a compete standpoint," Head Coach Lindy Ruff said after Thursday's win, his 500th as an NHL head coach.
"He's one of the top coaches in this league," Tippett said. "The ability of a coach to change his message (and) make sure he's got all his players on board, that's a lot easier said than done."
The Sabres are pressing on without star center Derek Roy, who recently underwent surgery to repair a torn quad tendon and will be out four to six months. Roy averaged one point per game in 35 games.