By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high eight games tonight when they play the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in the second game of a five-game road trip. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (32-19-9) will enter the game in first place in the Pacific Division standings and in third place in the Western Conference standings with 73 points.
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This will be the only game between the Coyotes and Flyers this season. Phoenix is 3-0-1 vs. Philadelphia in the four games the teams have played since the NHL lockout ended.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov
will make his 19th consecutive start for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov has won seven starts in a row with a 1.55 goals-against average and two shutouts. He made 32 saves in a 3-2 win over Nashville on Saturday in the first game of this trip.
The Coyotes are led by defenseman Keith Yandle
, who has 51 points. Winger Ray Whitney
is second with 45 points. Whitney, who suffered a lower-body injury vs. Nashville on Saturday, will not play tonight. He is considered day-to-day. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin
(lower-body injury) also won't play tonight.
Tonight's game will be the first in Philadelphia for Coyotes winger Scottie Upshall
since the Flyers traded him to Phoenix in March of 2009.
“We’re at a point in our season where things are going well and I think this game will be a big test for us,” said Upshall, who leads the Coyotes with 16 goals. “They’ve got a well-balanced group of guys up front and a solid back end. They definitely will be contenders for the Cup this year. For us, we’re going to have to come out and really emphasize making smart plays and doing the simple things to win this game.”
It also will be a special game for Coyotes captain Shane Doan
, who, once it begins, will move into a first-place tie with Teppo Numminen on the franchise's list for games played (1,098).
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The Flyers (39-15-5), who rank first in the Eastern Conference with 83 points and third in the NHL at 3.29 goals per game, is 19-8-2 on home ice.
Tonight’s game will be Philadelphia's first home game after it completed a 3-1-0 road trip that was capped with a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Right wing Claude Giroux ranks first on the team and 18th in the NHL with 54 points. Center Jeff Carter has scored a team-high 27 goals. Only eight other NHLers have scored more goals this season.
Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal for Philadelphia, which has posted a 2-3-1 record vs. teams from the Pacific Division this season.
The Flyers are expected to be without defenseman Sean O'Donnell, a former Coyote, for up to two weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury Sunday.