By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their latest winning streak to three games tonight when they play the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Tonight’s matchup is the first game of the first back-to-back set of games of the season for the Coyotes, who will play 13 back-to-back sets of games in 2011-12. After tonight's game, the Coyotes will fly home back to Phoenix for a home game on Thursday night vs. the Nashville Predators.
Through 10 games, the Coyotes (5-3-2) rank among the NHL’s top 10 teams in several categories. Those categories are: goals per game (tied for 5th at 3.0); team faceoff percentage (sixth at 51.4 percent); and shots on goal per game (eighth at 32.4).
The Coyotes also are excelling when it comes to killing penalties. They’ve killed 34 of their past 37 short-handed situations.
"There's some areas that we like and can build on and there's some areas that we have to improve and build on,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "It's a long season. We're going to try to work on the consistency.”
will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith has posted a 3-1-1 record vs. Colorado in his career and a 1.70 goals-against average.
Newcomer Cal O’Reilly, whom the Coyotes acquired from Nashville last week, is not expected to make his Phoenix debut tonight because of a minor lower-body injury. O’Reilly’s younger brother Ryan co-leads the Avalanche with eight points.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Avalanche (7-4-0) enters the game fresh from a 3-2 win over Los Angeles on Sunday night. It was Colorado’s first win on home ice in four tries this season.
"Even though we're 1-3 at home we've been in every game and probably should have won two or three," center Matt Duchene told reporters. "We want to be a good home team."
The Avalanche ranks fifth in the Western Conference with 14 points and is leading the NHL in power-play efficiency (29.4 percent) and faceoff percentage (54.7).
Goalie Semyon Varlamov has won five of his last seven starts and has allowed two goals or less in four of those games.
Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog, the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, finished October with four goals, one short of the team record for a rookie set by Marek Svatos during the 2005-06 season.