By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will try to finish a three-game homestand with a second consecutive victory tonight when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (11-8-0) enters the game fresh off a 3-2 triumph over Dallas on Saturday night in which goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 26 of 28 shots.
The Coyotes will continue to play minus key defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek. Both have lower-body injuries. Michalek is still listed as week-to-week and Jovanovski is listed as day-to-day. The latter may return to action this weekend.
Captain Shane Doan is leading the Coyotes with 14 points.
After a slow start, Tampa Bay (7-4-6) has earned at least one point in nine of its past 10 games.
Center Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has led the way offensively with 13 goals. Only Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and LA's Anze Kopitar have scored more goals this season.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett was a coach for Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF World Championship. Stamkos played for Canada, on a line with Doan no less.
"It's a combination of skill and cleverness with the puck," Tippett said when asked to describe Stamkos' style. "He makes good plays, he finds open ice. He can find situations where goal scorers find, they just seem to be in the right spot at the right time. He's one of those guys who has that knack."
Two of Tampa Bay’s marquee players – Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier – are struggling to score goals. In 17 games, St. Louis has lit the lamp three times and Lecavalier has scored twice.
Coyotes center Robert Lang has scored a goal in each of the first two games of this homestand. He also chipped in an asisst on Saturday vs. Dallas to move into third place on the team's point list with 11.
Lightning center Ryan Malone enters the game with a three-game goal-scoring streak. The son of former Coyotes scout Greg Malone has notched four goals in his past five games.
The Coyotes courted left wing Alex Tanguay during the off-season hoping to sign the unrestricted free agent. Tanguay opted to sign with Tampa Bay instead and has notched three goals and six assists in 17 games.
Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata played only 18 games for Tampa Bay in 2008-09 after signing a lucrative free-agent contract. The Lightning traded Vrbata, who left the team during the season for personal reasons and returned to the Czech Republic, back to Phoenix over the summer for forward Todd Fedoruk and defenseman David Hale.
Lightning Head Coach Rick Tocchet played for and coached the Coyotes during their time in the Valley and still has many friends in the Phoenix organization.
"We're going to have to stay out of the penalty box. We've been taking too many penalties lately."