By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes will try to notch their first home victory of the season Thursday night when they host the St. Louis Blues at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix has won three out of four roads games, but it lost its lone home game on Oct. 10 vs. Columbus.
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes (3-2-0), who have held their first five opponents to seven goals, including an empty-netter vs. Columbus.
“Our team defense has been pretty strong,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve got people that are checking very hard, doing little things to keep the puck out of our net and that’s going to have to continue.”
The Blues (2-2-0) have lost two games in a row after beating Detroit twice in Sweden to open the season. In all four games, St. Louis has trailed its foe after one period.
“We're not coming out of the gate hard enough,” Blues forward Alex Steen told reporters. “We haven't played a hard 60 minutes yet this year and it's hurting us.”
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just four goals in his four starts this season. His goals-against average is 0.98 and his save percentage is .960. Only one of the four goals he has allowed has come at even-strength.
Blues center Keith Tkachuk continues to plant himself in front of the other team's net and contribute offensively. The former Coyotes captain, now 37 years old, leads the team with six points (three goals, three assists).
There is a good chance forward Taylor Pyatt will be removed from the injured reserve list and make his debut with the Coyotes tonight. Pyatt suffered a lower body injury in a preseason game and missed the first five games.
Both teams are struggling on the power play. Phoenix enters tonight's game 0 for 11 over the past two games. The Blues are 0 for 8 in their past two games.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan has yet to score a goal this season, nor did he score a goal in four preseason games. Notoriously a slow starter, Phoenix will need their leader to snap out of his slump soon.
"I'm excited about getting in the lineup here and helping this team win some games."