By Anthony Perez
After earning three out of a possible four points on their most recent trip, the Coyotes return home on Friday night to take on the Calgary Flames in the first of back-to-back games this weekend at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
The Coyotes (5-5-5), who are coming off a 2-1 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, know that they must build on the momentum they gained on the road.
“We’ve been battling hard, we’ve been playing some good games, but we couldn’t find the ways to win, and (Wednesday) night I felt like we didn’t have a good first period, but we stuck to the game plan and we came out in the second and third period and we played a strong road game," Coyotes forward Eric Belanger
said. "Those are the types of games we’re going to have to win to have success.”
Defenseman Garrett Stafford
, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Thursday, will make his debut with the Coyotes on Friday night. Stafford currently leads all San Antonio defensemen in scoring with three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 12 games. He has also notched three multi-point games this season.
Stafford, who has five NHL games on his resume, is looking forward to Friday night’s game against Calgary.
“It feels great,” Stafford said after Thursday’s practice. “Any time you get that call, obviously, this is what all of us dream about and I’m finally getting a chance, an opportunity, and it feels good.”
Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson spoke with the media after practice on Thursday and talked about the opportunity that Stafford is getting.
“He had a real good camp, he’s a good puck mover, he’s a mobile defenseman, I think he’s going to help out,” Samuelsson said. “He’s a right-handed shot, he’s certainly going to fill a role there because now we have three solid players on the right side and he’s going to play with Lepisto (Friday), so that’s going to be a good third pairing. So, we look forward to seeing him in action.”
|Photo by Getty Images.
Flames forward Rene Bourque has notched seven goals and five assists in 12 games. Forward Jarome Iginla is fourth on the team in scoring with eight points in 14 games.
Miikka Kiprusoff has appeared in 12 games for the Flames and has posted a record of 6-6-0, along with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage and two shutouts.
Samuelsson said Calgary would present a strong challenge to the Coyotes.
“I think Bourque is playing extremely well for them right now, and they have some guys that I think are not off to the start they would like to be, but it’s a good team,” Samuelsson said. “We’ve always had some good battles against Calgary. They pursue the puck very hard and usually they’re fun physical games against them.”
Calgary (7-7-0) is coming off a 4-2 road win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night that ended a four-game losing streak.