By Dave Vest
ANAHEIM – The Coyotes will conclude a four-game trip this afternoon when they play the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. The puck drops at 2 p.m. (Arizona time).
"You have to make sure you focus and make sure you're ready to go at the drop of the puck," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said regarding the early start time.
Phoenix (21-12-2) enters the rare matinee with a 2-1-0 record on this trip. The first three games can best be described as the bad, the good and the ugly; Detroit dominated Phoenix on Monday, the Coyotes cruised by Toronto on Wednesday, and Phoenix struggled but eked out a shootout win over Columbus on Thursday.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in goal for the Coyotes after watching backup Jason LaBarbera make 38 saves vs. the Blue Jackets. Bryzgalov started 14 games in a row before Thursday and posted a 9-3-2 record in that stretch with a 1.98 goals-against average.
The Ducks (13-14-7) have played better lately but still are in last place in the Western Conference standings. Before losing to San Jose on Thursday, Anaheim had earned at least one point in six straight games (3-0-3).
Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who set a franchise record by notching at least one point in 19 straight games this season, has cooled off. Perry has managed just one point in the past five games.
Jonas Hiller is expected to start in goal for Anaheim. Hiller has stopped 63 of the last 66 shots he has faced over two games.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has chipped in five points in the past four games, including Phoenix's lone goal in a 2-1 shootout win over Columbus on Dec. 17.
Ducks center Saku Koivu, the 23rd overall pick of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, has notched three goals and four assists in the past five games.
The Coyotes have killed 32 of their opponents' past 35 power plays. Overall, Phoenix ranks sixth in the NHL in penalty killing at 84.1 percent. Meanwhile, the Ducks rank second in the league in power-play efficiency at 23.2 percent.
Coyotes center Robert Lang turns 39 years old today. Lang has played 960 NHL games since being picked in the seventh round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. The Coyotes are his eighth team.
Each of the first three games between these teams this season have been decided differently, in a shootout, in regulation and in overtime.
"Sometimes the game is won on the specialty teams and I take a lot of pride in it (killing penalties)."