By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to match a season-high three-game winning streak tonight when they play the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (24-21-8) will enter the game tied with Dallas with 56 points, two points behind eighth-place Minnesota in the Western Conference standings.
The Coyotes, who last won three games in a row in late October/early November, last played Monday night when they beat Detroit 3-1. That win followed a 5-3 victory over San Jose on Saturday night.
“They're two good teams in the upper echelon of the conference and when you're taking points away from them, you're getting points that other teams aren't going to get,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “You look at those as very valuable points.”
Tonight’s game is the fourth of six between these Pacific Division rivals this season. Dallas leads the season series with a 2-1-0 record, with both wins coming via a shootout.
Mike Smith is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith, who was drafted by Dallas in 2001 and then played his first 44 NHL games for the Stars, stopped 87 of the 90 shots he faced in the first three games between these teams this season.
Photo by Norm Hall
The Coyotes are being led by 38-year-old winger Ray Whitney, who chipped in two more assists in Monday’s game – his 1,200th in the League. Whitney ranks 17th in the NHL with 31 assists, and ranks 21st with 47 points.
Dallas (27-22-2) has scored a power-play goal in each of its three games played since the All-Star Break.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen has won his last three starts and has allowed just three goals on 96 shots. He is expected to start tonight.
All-Star left wing Jamie Benn is having a breakout season with 15 goals and 31 assists in 46 games.
The Stars will likely play minus captain Brenden Morrow, who missed Saturday’s 2-1 win over Minnesota because of nagging upper-body injuries.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal has notched three goals and two assists in his last three games, matching his point total from his previous 11 contests.
Stars left wing Jamie Benn has notched two goals and two assists in the three games he has played since appearing in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.
The Coyotes are 4-3-1 in the second game of back-to-back games this season.
Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata has scored the most road goals (17) in the NHL.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Arizona Plus and XTRA Sports 910 AM at 6:30 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.