By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will attempt to stretch their winning streak to three games tonight when they play the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. (AZ time).
The game will be the first between the teams since the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Detroit beat Phoenix, four games to none, in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Coyotes will enter the game with nine road victories already in the bank; no other Western Conference team has won more than eight road games and only three Eastern Conference teams have matched Phoenix with nine or more wins on enemy ice.
"On the road, we are finding ways to get points, and that's what it's all about," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes will be looking to snap out of a lengthy power-play slump against the Red Wings, who rank 23rd in the NHL at penalty killing at 80.2 percent. Phoenix has netted just one power-play goal in its past 37 tries and has fallen to 29th in the League at 10.8 percent.
On the flip side, the Coyotes continue to lead the league in fewest penalty minutes per game (8.4) and rank seventh in the NHL in penalty killing (85.9 percent).
will be back in goal for the Coyotes after taking off Tuesday night’s game at Nashville, which Phoenix won, 3-2, behind 30 saves by backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
. Smith will be seeking his 14th win of the season and the second of his career vs. the Red Wings in his fifth try.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival
, who has been sidelined since suffering an upper-body injury in the season opener vs. San Jose, will return to the lineup tonight. Rozsival notched three goals and three assists in 33 games with the Coyotes last season after coming to the team in a trade with the New York Rangers.
Winger Ray Whitney
, who recently played his 100th game with the Coyotes, will enter the game needing just one assist to reach 600 for his career. Only 74 other NHL players have reached that milestone.
Detroit (16-9-1) has lost two games in a row after winning seven straight.
The Red Wings have played outstanding hockey on home ice this season and have lost just twice in regulation there in 13 matches (10-2-1). The Coyotes, however, are 2-1-1 in their past four regular-season games at Joe Louis Arena.
Right wing Johan Franzen has been leading the way offensively averaging a point per game in the first 26 games.
"They're a good defensive team," Franzen told reporters about the Coyotes. "When you fall behind, it's tough to come back."
Franzen is getting help from defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall, who are tied for second among NHL defensemen with six goals apiece. Lidstrom also ranks sixth in the League with 19 points.
Goalie Jimmy Howard is leading the NHL with 15 victories and ranks fourth with a 1.89 goals-against average.