By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will play the Anaheim Ducks for the final time this season tonight at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (38-22-5) will enter the game with momentum after posting a dramatic 3-1 victory over Colorado on Thursday, one day after making seven trades and acquiring five NHL players. In that game, newcomers Lee Stempniak
and Wojtek Wolski
scored goals. Wolski's goal came with 23 seconds left and snapped a 1-1 tie. Two other players, Derek Morris
and Petteri Nokelainen, also made their debuts with the Coyotes on Thursday after being acquired via trades on Wednesday.
"I like our group now and we have to find ways to get everybody together and keep pushing forward and get into the playoffs," Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
Tonight's game is the sixth and final matchup between these Pacific Division rivals. Phoenix has won three of the first five games, including both games played at Jobing.com Arena.
Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski
, who missed Thursday's game because of an upper-body injury, is expected to play tonight. Ilya Bryzgalov
likely will tend net for Phoenix in what could be a historic night for him (see SUBPLOTS below).
The Ducks (30-26-7) also were busy making trades on Wednesday. Anaheim completed five deals and bolstered their defense by acquiring Lubomir Visnovsky and Aaron Ward. They also traded for backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney.
Jonas Hiller, who played very well for Switzerland at the Winter Olympics, likely will start in goal for the Ducks, who will enter the game in 13th place in the Western Conference standings with 67 points. Anaheim trails eighth-place Detroit by five points.
Three members of the Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Scott Niedermayer - won gold medals at the Winter Olympics on Sunday playing for Canada.
"Getzlaf, Perry and Niedermayer are just outstanding players," Tippett said. "You watched the Olympics and you saw how well those guys played. They're going to be a handful (tonight) and it will be a real test for us."