By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to climb the Western Conference standings tonight when they host the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (38-27-13) will enter the game in eighth place in the conference standings but just one point behind Los Angeles, which leads the Pacific Division.
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Tonight’s game is the sixth and final game of the season between these division rivals. The Coyotes won the first two games, but Anaheim has won three in a row and outscored Phoenix 14-4 in those games.
is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith posted a 38-save shutout in his last start on Thursday when Phoenix beat San Jose 2-0.
Coyotes winger Ray Whitney
, who turns 40 years old in May, will enter the game needing one more point to become the 79th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 for his career.
"He's taken all his assets and maximized them, and he's turned into a great player (and) a very entertaining player," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters
. "He's a great teammate, enjoys the game. His fitness levels are outstanding. He's a consummate pro and a very highly skilled one."
|Photo by Getty Images.
Anaheim (33-33-11) will enter the game mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoffs contention, but on a roll nonetheless. The Ducks have posted a 23-11-5 record in their past 39 games and, more recently, have won three of their past four games.
“We are just trying to finish strong and see what happens,” Ducks forward Teemu Selanne told reporters. “... It's a tough situation. But we are playing well.”
Selanne, 41, is Anaheim’s leader with 64 points and is third on the team with 25 goals - including one in each of the past two games. He needs just two more goals to move into 11th place on the NHL’s all-time list of goal scorers.
Jonas Hiller is expected to start in goal and make his League-leading 71st appearance of the season. Hiller has played in 37 of Anaheim's last 39 games, and has posted a 1.97 goals-against average in those games.