By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will play their sixth consecutive road game tonight against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Because of the Christmas holiday, the Coyotes (15-11-7) did not fly to Dallas until this morning. Nevertheless, Phoenix will try to snap a two-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 10-2 by Pittsburgh and San Jose. Overall, the Coyotes are 1-3-1 in the first five games of a six-game stretch of consecutive road games.
Tonight will be a special night for Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski
, who will skate in the 1,000th game of his NHL career. Only 255 other NHL players have reached that milestone.
► Click here
to listen to Jovanovski discuss reaching this milestone.
“Any time a player plays that many games in the league he has established himself as a top NHL player,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “If you look at 'Jovo,' and how hard he plays and the way he’s competed throughout his career, it’s really a great feat for him.”
Among active NHL defensemen who have reached the 1,000 game milestone, Jovanovski ranks sixth in goals (132), tied for eighth in assists (346) and eighth in points (478).
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
, who has missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury, flew with the team to Dallas today but will not return to the lineup tonight. Instead, backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
will make his fifth start in a row.
Winger Radim Vrbata
, who suffered a lower-body injury vs. San Jose on Thursday, also is in Dallas but his status for tonight's game is unclear.
The Coyotes dominated the Stars the last time these teams played on Dec. 11 in Glendale; Phoenix won 5-2. Dallas, however, is 4-0-2 since that game, and is 10-0-3 in its past 13 home games.
The Stars (21-10-4) lost to Calgary, 3-2 in a shootout, on Thursday in their last game before the holiday. Dallas is atop the Pacific Division standings with 46 points, three ahead of second-place San Jose and nine more than the Coyotes.