By Dave Vest
With the regular season winding down, the Coyotes will try to start one last lengthy winning streak tonight when they host the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (41-25-11), which lost a 4-1 decision to San Jose on Saturday, will enter the game in fourth place in Western Conference standings, four points behind third-place San Jose.
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"If we can win this game, it puts (the Stars) nine points behind us," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "That's a big hill for them to climb. There's still some teams behind us, but we've got to take care of ourselves. When you beat teams that are under you in the standings, that's moving forward."
Tonight’s game is the sixth of six between Phoenix and Dallas. The Coyotes have won three of the first five, but the Stars won the most recent contest, 3-2, in Glendale on March 1. Jamie Benn scored the game-winning goal in that game with just 4.8 seconds left in third period.
The Coyotes haven't forgotten that loss, nor have they forgotten the celebration of Stars Head Coach Marc Crawford before the teams left the ice.
"We definitely wanted to end that game a little differently than it ended," Coyotes captain Shane Doan
said. "And then Crawford does a little celebration dance up against the glass to our bench. You want to respond. You don't need any more motivation, not at this time of year by any means...but it's a big game for us."
will start in goal for the Coyotes, who are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games and 2-2-0 on their season-long six-game homestand thus far. Bryzgalov is 7-2-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in his past 10 starts.
Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker
will enter the game with a two-game goal streak. In three games versus Dallas this season, Boedker has chipped in a goal and an assist.
Center Vernon Fiddler
, who missed Saturday’s game because of a lower-body injury, skated with teammates at Tuesday’s morning skate. Tippett said Fiddler would be a game-time decision. Meanwhile, the Coyotes again will play without Martin Hanzal
(lower-body injury), Lauri Korpikoski
(upper-body injury) and Ed Jovanovski
|Photo by Getty Images.
Dallas (38-26-10) enters the game with a 1-3-2 record in its past six games and teetering on playoff elimination. The Stars are in 10th place in Western Conference standings with 86 points, four points behind eighth-place Chicago.
“I think they'll bill this as the biggest game of the season for them, and there's no reason why we shouldn't do the same," Tippett said. "Their desperation level has to be at the max, and there's no reason ours shouldn't be, either, so it should be bode for a very good game."
Kari Lehtonen, who is 2-1-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average versus the Coyotes this season, is expected to start in goal for Dallas.
Despite missing 10 games, Stars center Brad Richards ranks 13th in the NHL with 69 points.
Defenseman Alex Goligoski has been a nice acquisition. In 15 games since coming to the Stars in a trade with Pittsburgh, Goligoski has notched 11 points (four goals and seven assists), including one goal in each of the past three games.