By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes will conclude the pre-Christmas portion of their 2009-10 schedule tonight with a home game against the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
The teams have split the first four games they've played this season and won't square off again until March 6.
"They want to be on the power play and they're trying to draw penalties, so they do a lot of one-on-one stuff to try and beat you," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tipppett said of the Ducks, who rank third in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 23.0 percent. "If you get beat, you can end up taking penalties. That's where we have to be a little better in the competitive areas and better in positioning to allow yourself to not take those penalties."
Captain Shane Doan has scored a goal in each of the past two games and leads the Coyotes with 23 points.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who began his NHL career with Anaheim, will be in goal for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov hasn't lost a home game since Nov. 12, a span of eight games.
Phoenix (22-13-2) last played Monday when they routed Columbus 5-2. The line of Doan, Scottie Upshall and Matthew Lombardi teamed for 10 points in that victory.
Anaheim (15-14-7) enters the game having won four of its past five games, including a furious, come-from-behind 4-2 win at Colorado on Tuesday in which the Ducks scored four unanswered goals in the last 7:34 of the game.
The Ducks have gone 5-1-3 in their past nine games to move out of the basement in the Western Conference standings and above the .500 mark for the first time since Oct. 14, when they were 3-2-1.
Should he start tonight, Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller will be seeking his fifth consecutive victory.
Coyotes right wing Scottie Upshall has three goals and three assists in his past four games. On Monday, he set a career-high with four points in one game vs. Columbus.
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, the 19th overall pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, has scored a goal in each of his past four games and leads the team with 41 points.
The Coyotes have won their past seven home games. It's their longest victory streak ever at Jobing.com Arena and their longest home winning streak since they won eight in a row from Feb. 12 to March 24, 2002 at the former America West Arena in downtown Phoenix.
In four games vs. the Ducks this season, the Coyotes have committed 23 penalties. Anaheim has parlayed five of those power plays into goals.
Center Kevin Porter was recalled on Tuesday just in case center Vernon Fiddler's lower-body injury keeps him sidelined for longer than first anticipated. Fiddler, who is listed as day-to-day, will skate Wednesday morning and be evaluated again after that workout.
"As a line we just want to get better and continue to improve, and there's lots of areas to do that."