By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will attempt to stretch their winning streak - and their shutout streak - to three games tonight when they play the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (27-19-9) will enter the game just two points behind the first-place Stars (30-18-5) in the Pacific Division standings.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
will make his 14th consecutive start. Bryzgalov will have a chance to post his third consecutive shutout. No Coyotes netminder has done that since Brian Boucher set a modern-day NHL record with five straight shutouts from Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004.
"Bryzgalov has been solid and when he's had to make big saves, he has, but we've been more committed in front of him, playing stronger defense," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
Tonight's game is the fourth between these teams this season. Phoenix has won the past two games and has outscored Dallas, 6-2, in those victories.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes will play minus injured defenseman Ed Jovanovski
who has missed the past three games. Jovanovski took part in Wednesday's morning skate but he will be a game-time decision.
Center Vernon Fiddler
, who has missed the past 10 games because of an upper-body injury, is expected to return to the lineup.
Dallas has lost three games in a row and was outscored 13-5 in those games. Injuries (see INJURIES
below) have taken a toll on the Stars, who are clinging to first place in the division by the slightest margin; second-place San Jose is just one point behind and fifth-place Los Angeles is only five back.
The Stars, who haven't played since Saturday, rank 11th in the NHL in power-play efficiency (19.1 percent), but their penalty killing is struggling at 79.8 percent, which isn't good considering they average 15.4 penalty minutes per game.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen has posted a 1-4-0 record and a 3.73 goals-against average in his last five starts.