By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to three games tonight when they play against the Chicago Blackhawks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (AZ time).
Phoenix last played on Saturday when it defeated the Winnipeg Jets, 4-1, in an intense and emotional home opener in front of a sellout crowd. Head Coach Dave Tippett, who led the Coyotes to a 5-2-1 record vs. Chicago in his first two seasons, is hoping his players can avoid a letdown.
"I think it's great that the Chicago Blackhawks are coming in because they're a very good team," Tippett said. "If you have a letdown, you're going to get abused.”
, who played last Thursday and beat Nashvile, 5-2, will start in goal tonight. LaBarbera is 4-0-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in five career games vs. the Blackhawks.
The Coyotes (2-1-1) appear to be gelling offensively, especially the top two lines.
Newcomer Daymond Langkow
already has matched his game total from 2010-11 and has quietly stabilized the top line with wingers Shane Doan
and Ray Whitney
"He's a solid veteran player (and) a smart player on the ice," Tippett said. "It's telltale the other night. We missed him for six, seven minutes in the first period when he got hit in the face with a puck, and that took the rhythm out of the game a little bit. He comes back and now everything falls into place. So he's a real stabilizing factor. He fits well with Doan and Whitney, and they've been a pretty good line so far."
to watch Tippett answer questions about tonight's game.
Doan, who leads the Coyotes with seven points, needs just one more goal to become the second player in NHL history to score 300 goals without the benefit of at least one hat trick (joining Scott Mellanby).
Meanwhile, winger Mikkel Boedker
has fit in nicely on the second line with center Martin Hanzal
and winger Radim Vrbata
|Photo by Getty Images.
Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette
will be back in the lineup tonight. So will Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo. Bissonnette and Carcillo are old pals/teammates with Pittsburgh, but don't be surprised if they trade a few punches tonight.
"I'm on the fourth line and so is he, and there are no friends on the ice," Bissonnette said after Tuesday's morning skate.
Bissonnette and Carcillo fought once before, during training camp a few years back.
"I'd have to give the edge to Dan in that one, but that was when I wasn't fighting as much," Bissonnette said.
The Blackhawks (2-1-1) will enter the game looking for their first road win of the season.
While the Coyotes are thriving on the power play (23.8 percent), the Blackhawks have struggled thus far at 11.8 percent.
Center Patrick Kane leads Chicago with six points in four games. Kane has notched at least one point in each game, totaling two goals and four assists.
Corey Crawford, who is 2-0-1 with a 1.90 goals-against average in three games against Phoenix, will start in goal.
Forward Marian Hossa, who hasn’t taken the ice since suffering an upper-body injury last week in a win over Winnipeg, accompanied the team to Phoenix. He is considered "doubtful" to play tonight.
"You definitely miss him out there," Kane told the Chicago Tribune. "He's very easy to play with, especially for myself changing positions. It's nice to play with someone who has a lot of experience and is so good defensively."