By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to three games tonight when they host the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Ilya Bryzgalov, who blanked St. Louis on Thursday, is expected to start in goal for Phoenix (8-4-0) against his former team. Bryzgalov already has matched his career-high for shutouts in one season with three. His goals-against average is 1.77.
The Coyotes played arguably their best game of the season on Thursday when they beat the host St. Louis Blues 2-0 with a complete team effort.
“The challenge for us is to keep that consistent compete level that we’ve had the past two games,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “…ultimately it comes down to how hard you’re willing to compete in the game.”
Anaheim (4-6-1) clobbered Vancouver 7-2 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Coyotes are expecting a difficult game.
“They are a team that is always very competitive and we’ll have our hands full,” Tippett said. “I don’t think the season has gone as well as they would have liked yet, so they’re going to be a very hungry team."
Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said he and the other blueliners will be challenged by all four Anaheim lines.
“Offensively, they are a gifted team,” Jovanovski said. “They are big-bodied guys that are a load to handle down low. We’ve just got to limit their time and space.”
Coyotes forward Vernon Fiddler has been averaging a point per game in the past five games. On Thursday, he assisted on both of Phoenix’s goals in a win over St. Louis.
Ducks right wing Corey Perry, the 28th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, had three points vs. Vancouver on Friday, and has seven points in his past four games.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett did not confirm it after Friday’s practice, but it's highly likely that forward Scottie Upshall will return to the lineup tonight after being scratched from Thursday’s game for taking too many penalties lately. "He's a guy that we need to be a good player for us, but what we're trying to do is just make sure that the standards are set on how we expect him and the rest of our team to be," Tippett said.
The Ducks have lost seven of their first 11 games, but the Coyotes are not convinced Anaheim will stay at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings. Losing defenseman Chris Pronger in the off-season hurt, “but they still have Scott Niedermayer," Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "A lot of teams, when they have that one big stud in the back, it kind of makes a world of difference. They still play a feisty, upbeat game."
Coyotes forward Peter Mueller still is seeking his first goal of the season. Mueller played a season-low 10:21 on Thursday.
"They've been struggling a little bit lately, but they have great forwards there."