By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes begin a compact three-game homestand tonight when they host the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (10-6-3) will enter the game fresh after winning three of five on a season-high five-game road trip and a day off on Tuesday.
Mike Smith will start in goal for the Coyotes, who have beaten Anaheim three times in a row, including once this season, 5-4, on Oct. 23 at the Honda Center. Smith is 4-0-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average vs. Anaheim in his career.
The Coyotes are led offensively by Radim Vrbata, who has nine goals and 16 points. Vrbata has scored three of his goals in the past two games – two at Buffalo and at one at Washington.
Phoenix is the least-penalized team in the NHL, and its 87.5 percent penalty-kill rate is good for fifth in the League.
Center Daymond Langkow, who has missed the past six games because of a death in his family, rejoined the team on Wednesday but will not play tonight.
Photo by Getty Images.
Anaheim (6-10-4) will enter the game looking to snap a four-game losing streak that has landed them in last place in the Pacific Division and in 14th place in the western Conference.
The Ducks are struggling to score goals, averaging just 2.00 per game. Only the New York Islanders score fewer goals per game.
After ranking third in the NHL in power-play efficiency last season, Anaheim has dropped to 21st this season (12 for 79).
Corey Perry, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, has notched seven goals this season but just two in the past eight games and none on the road since Nov. 1.
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller is 0-2-3 with a 2.97 goals-against average in his last five road starts.
Coyotes left wing Lauri Korpikoski scored two goals in Monday's 4-3 loss at Washington, including one on a penalty shot.
Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne has notched two goals and two assists in the past three games.
Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura played 95 games for the Ducks from 2009-11. He notched six goals and eight assists during his tenure with Anaheim.
Opponents have outshot the Coyotes in 11 of the team's first 19 games, including the past six. Phoenix, however, won three of those six games (3-2-1).
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and XTRA Sports 910 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 7 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.