By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes will try to stretch their home winning streak to three games tonight when they play the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Tonight’s game will be the third game of the season between these teams but the first in Glendale. The last time Detroit played in Arizona was when they completed a sweep of the Coyotes in Game 4 of a Western Conference Quarterfinal series in last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Mike Smith, who played in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss at Anaheim, is expected to be in goal again tonight for Phoenix (21-19-7), which is 0-1-1 vs. Detroit this season.
After Thursday’s morning skate, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said there was a chance center Martin Hanzal would play tonight for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 23. The Coyotes have won just three of the 12 games (3-5-4) played without Hanzal.
“Hockey is my life and I want to play everyday,” said Hanzal, who averaged 18:42 of ice time prior to the injury. “And when you’re not allowed to play or when you cannot play it’s always hard. When you’re just watching your teammates battling hard for a playoff spot it’s frustrating.”
Tonight’s game is the first of six in a row on home ice for the Coyotes, who have outscored opponents 11‐2 over the past two home games.
Photo by Getty Images.
The Red Wings (30-15-1) will enter the game one point behind Western Conference-leading Chicago.
Detroit has allowed 69 goals on the road - nearly double the 36 it has yielded on home ice, where it has won 15 games in a row.
"We talked a lot about that today," Head Coach Mike Babcock told reporters on Wednesday. "We're averaging 1.7 (goals-against) at home and 2.7 against on the road. You can't win without checking. It's impossible. You can't outscore your mistakes. You've got to be diligent without the puck if you're going to have success."
All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard, who did not play in Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Dallas, is expected to play tonight. Howard leads the NHL with 27 wins and has a 1.98 goals-against average.
Offensively, Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is averaging a point per game over his last 12 games.
Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura, who scored his first goal of the season on Wednesday at Anaheim, has notched a goal and two assists in the past four games.
Red Wings center Jiri Hudler is riding a two-game point streak (one goal, one assist), and his shooting percentage is a lofty 19.7 percent.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal became a father on Wednesday when his wife Lenka gave birth to a son they named Martin Jr.
Coyotes winger Ray Whitney played 67 regular-season games and 12 playoff games for the Red Wings in 2003-04.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and XTRA Sports 910 AM at 7 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.