By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high nine games tonight when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in the third game of a five-game road trip. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
|Photo by Getty Images.
With a win tonight, the Coyotes will tie the longest winning streak in franchise history set last season (Mar. 4-20).
Phoenix (33-19-9) will enter the game in first place in the Pacific Division standings and in third place in the Western Conference standings with 75 points.
This will be the second game between the Coyotes and Lightning this season. Tampa Bay beat Phoenix, 3-0, on Oct. 30 at Jobing.com Arena. Lightning goalie Dan Ellis made 23 saves for the shutout.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
, who scored the game-winning goal in Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win over Philadelphia, will play in his 1,099th game tonight. Once the game starts, Doan will pass former captain Teppo Numminen and become the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise’s all-time leader in games played (see PODCASTS
below). Doan is one of four active NHL players (along with Teemu Selanne, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Kris Draper) who has played for the Winnipeg Jets and ranks in the top five in franchise history in goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and power-play goals.
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
will make his first start since Jan. 10 - a span of 19 games. LaBarbera has posted a 3-0-2 record in his past five starts. He has tended goal twice against Tampa Bay in his career and has posted a 0-2-0 record and 3.67 goals-against average in those games.
The Coyotes will play minus forward Scottie Upshall
, whom the NHL suspended on Wednesday afternoon for his hit on Philadelphia defenseman Oskars Bartulis in Tuesday's game.
Defenseman Keith Yandle
, who leads the Coyotes and all NHL defensemen with 52 points, is currently riding a four-game assist streak.
Tonight’s game will be the 11th of a season-long 12-game homestand for the Lightning, which has gone 5-3-2 so far including three straight losses. Despite the skid, the Lightning will enter the game ranked first in the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference with 75 points.
Tampa Bay has not played since Saturday when it lost to Florida, 3-2, in a shootout.
Center Steven Stamkos leads the Lightning – and the NHL – with 40 goals, but he has not scored a goal in the past five games. Right wing Martin St. Louis is first on the team and second in the NHL with 49 assists.