By Dave Vest
SUNRISE, FLA. –
There is plenty at stake for the Coyotes tonight when they conclude a four-game trip with a game against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. The puck drops at 4:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
First, the Coyotes will be trying to set the franchise record for victories in a season. Phoenix won its 43rd game on Tuesday at Tampa Bay to tie the 1984-85 Winnipeg Jets for most victories in one season. Second, the Coyotes will be trying to win their seventh consecutive game, which would be the longest winning streak of the season. And third, the Coyotes are looking to cap a weeklong trip through the Southeast Division with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
"It's fun when you are winning," Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "This team is playing well and it gives us confidence, and hopefully we can keep it going here.We started this trip really good and we have one more game so we've got to make sure we finish strong."
Specifically, the Coyotes (43-22-5) need to improve their power-play production. Phoenix ranks last in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 14.9 percent.
, who has stopped 147 of 152 shots in winning his past five starts, will be in goal for the Coyotes, who will enter the game in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 91 points, five points behind first-place San Jose.
The Panthers are coming off a humbling 7-3 home defeat to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in which goalie Tomas Vokoun was pulled after giving up five goals in less than two periods. Despite his poor outing on Tuesday, Vokoun still ranks second in the NHL with a .928 save percentage.
The Panthers (28-30-10) rank 13th in the Eastern Conference standings, eight points behind eighth-place Boston with 14 games to play.
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris
, who played against Florida several times this season before coming back to Phoenix in a trade with the Bruins, said the Panthers are a quick team.
"They dump the puck every time and they forececk hard,” Morris said. "They are a lot like us. They get up the wing hard and come real hard at you with their speed. They've got some really fast guys and their goaltending is very strong so the biggest thing for us is to get back hard like we have been doing. That way when they're forechecking we can make little chips to get by them and get out."
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on KFNX 1100 News-Talk Radio instead of XTRA Sports 910. Coverage begins at 4 p.m.