By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to five games and move into first place in the Pacific Division standings tonight when they host the Washington Capitals at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (29-19-9) will enter the game in third place in the division standings with 67 points, one point behind leaders Dallas and Anaheim. Neither the Stars nor the Ducks play tonight.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
, who did not practice with teammates on Sunday, is expected to make his 16th consecutive start for Phoenix. During the winning streak, Bryzgalov has stopped 98 of the 102 shots he has faced. On Monday, the NHL named him its No. 3 Star of the Week. Click here
for more information.
"He's big in the net right now and he's giving our team confidence," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
Winger Taylor Pyatt
is quietly riding a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists). Pyatt recorded his 14th goal of the season in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Chicago; it’s the most goals Pyatt has scored since the 2007-08 season when he scored 16 for Vancouver.
The Coyotes are nearly at full strength. Only defenseman David Schlemko
, who is recovering from an upper-body injury after absorbing a blow to the head by San Jose's Scott Nichol on Jan. 17, is sidelined. Schlemko skated with teammates on Sunday for the first time since suffering the injury.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Tonight's game is the first of five in a row away from home for the Capitals (29-17-10), who will enter the game five points behind first-place Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division standings.
"It's like we're waiting for something to happen," Capitals winger Mike Knuble told reporters. "It's time to throw the switch toward the playoffs. We're entering the toughest part of the season. It's going to be a real indicator if we're a serious contender or not, quite honestly."
Washington has scored two or fewer goals in nine of its past 13 games and is averaging 2.66 goals per game, down more than a goal a game from last season.
"I think they're a team that's trying to continue to find their game," Tippett said. "I think last year's playoffs sent them a message. They're trying to be a better all-around team. You see their defensive numbers are much better this year. I think they have a focus on trying to be a better playoff team. They still have some world-class talent without a question, but they still have some people who can really grind and play the game hard."
Left wing Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 21 goals and 56 points. He also leads the NHL with 255 shots on goal.
Michal Neuvirth will be in goal for the Capitals. Neuvirth has allowed just four goals in his last four games.