By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will begin a four-game trip tonight when they play the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (18-15-4) will enter the game less than 24 hours after a spirited effort against the Boston Bruins at Jobing.com Arena. Boston beat the injury-riddled Coyotes, 2-1 in overtime, but Head Coach Dave Tippett was pleased by his team’s performance.
“We did many good things against a very good hockey team,” Tippett said. “It was unfortunate we didn't get the two points. I like the energy of our team.”
Tippett is hoping his players will have some energy left over for tonight's challenging game played in the high elevation of Denver. The Coyotes have posted a 4-1-0 record this season in the second game of back-to-back games.
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
is expected to make his fifth consecutive start in place of injured starter Mike Smith
The Coyotes have dominated the Avalanche in recent years, including a 4-1 victory in Denver on Nov. 2. Phoenix has earned 11 of 12 possible points in the past six games vs. Colorado.
Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin
will be back in the lineup tonight after missing five games because of a lower-body injury.
Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata
, who began his NHL career with the Avs in 2001-02, has scored four goals in his last three games against Colorado.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Avalanche (19-18-1) have won five of their past six games, and eight of their past nine games at home.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal for Colorado, which sits in 12th place in the Western Conference standings despite its recent hot streak.
Center Matt Duchene is leading the Avs with 12 goals.
Left wing Gabriel Landeskog, the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is having a nice rookie season with seven goals and 10 assists. He leads all NHL rookies - and the Avs - with 112 shots on goal in 38 games.
Colorado is the NHL’s best road power-play team at 27.8 percent, but the Avs are just 9 for 68 on the power play (13.2 percent) at home.