By Associated Press
The St. Louis Blues will attempt to regain the lead atop the NHL standings while the Coyotes try to create some breathing room in the playoff race tonight at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (37-26-13) will enter the game in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, but tied with Pacific Division-leading Dallas with 87 points. Dallas is idle today, so if the Coyotes earn a point they will take over first place and the No. 3 seed in the standings.
► Click here
to see the latest NHL standings
"We know our situation," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We know where we are, we know where we want to get to."
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris
is expected to become the 277th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 NHL games tonight. Click here
to read more.
"I haven’t even thought about it all that much. My kids are excited about it," Morris said. "...I just enjoy playing the game. It’s been fun."
Meanwhile, Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney
is three points away from his 1,000th career point; if he reaches the milestone, Whitney would be the first NHL player to do so this season and the 79th in NHL history.
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
will start in goal for the Coyotes in place of Mike Smith
, who started Saturday's game in San Jose. LaBarbera last played on March 8 when he stopped 22 of 24 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota.
St. Louis (46-20-9) has already clinched its first playoff spot since 2008-09, but is 1-2-2 after winning nine of 10. Those recent struggles, which include being shut out twice, have left the Blues and the New York Rangers tied with a league-leading 101 points.
The Blues struggled to pull away in the race for their first Presidents' Trophy since 1999-2000, getting blanked again in Thursday's 1-0 shootout defeat at Los Angeles. Still, St. Louis is surely more concerned with eventually making a run at its first Stanley Cup. Another rough performance could be in store since St. Louis has killed 62 of the last 64 power plays its faced over 19 contests.
The Blues have beaten the Coyotes in both meetings this season, winning 4-1 at home on Jan. 3 after a 3-2 victory in Phoenix on Dec. 23. These teams will meet for the fourth and final time at St. Louis on April 6 in the penultimate game of the regular season.
► EDITOR'S NOTE:
Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this preview.