By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their point streak to eight games tonight when they host the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (28-21-9) will enter the game in seventh place in the Western Conference standings thanks to a 6-0-1 streak in its past seven games.
, who has won six games in a row including back-to-back shutouts, will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith, who began his NHL career with the Stars, has stopped all 66 shots he has faced in the past two games and has not allowed a goal in 138:49 of ice time.
“We're deserving to win right now,” Smith said. “At the start of the season, maybe we lost some games we didn't deserve to win. But right now we're finding ways to win, and we're doing it the right way. That makes it feel that much better.”
Smith has started all four games against Dallas this season and has posted a 0.96 goals-against average with two wins and two shootout losses.
Forward Radim Vrbata
will enter the game seeking his career-high 28th goal of the season.
"He's concerned about how our group does, not how he does personally,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said when told Vrbata shrugs off questions about his impressive scoring touch this season. “He's been a great fit for us here. It's not just his play, he's a quiet leader in that dressing room and very well respected.”
• Click here
to listen to Tippett answer questions after Saturday's morning skate.
The Coyotes will play without forward Taylor Pyatt
(upper-body injury) and defensemen Rostislav Klesla
(upper-body injury) and Derek Morris
(illness). On Saturday, the team added depth by recalling forward Matt Watkins and defenseman Michael Stone
from their affiliate in the American Hockey League. Neither has played in an NHL game, but Stone (see PODCASTS
below) is expected to make his League debut tonight.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Stars (29-25-3) will enter the game four points behind the Coyotes in the standings and four points behind eighth-place Los Angeles.
“We need to find a way to string wins together, and they're going to be tight and they're going to be tight checking,” Stars forward Steve Ott told reporters on Thursday.
All-Star forward Jamie Benn, who leads Dallas with 49 points, likely will not be in the lineup after suffering a serious cut on his left leg in Thursday’s overtime win over Calgary.
Kari Lehtonen is expected to be in goal for the Stars, who play at home against Nashville on Sunday.
A win against the Coyotes tonight would give Dallas 30, marking the 15th consecutive season that the Stars have reached the 30-win mark in a season.