|PHX||0||3||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|COL||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
COYOTES (16-8-5) at AVALANCHE (20-8-0)
Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche will play for the second time this season. On Nov. 21, Ryan O'Reilly scored in the final minute of overtime to give the Avalanche a 4-3 victory.
Big story: The shorthanded Coyotes will look to finish their four-game road trip on a positive note after back-to-back losses to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. They'll have to do so without captain Shane Doan for a second straight game due an illness.
"He's a big piece of our puzzle," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett told the team's website. "But if he's out, other guys have to take more [responsibility] and have to step up. He's a big player that plays with skill. He plays hard and in front of the net on the power play, and provides leadership in the dressing room. But there are players that we have that can take some of that slack."
Left off the trip to Denver were three key players, but it was the one who went with them had Tippett smiling.
Zbynek Michalek, out since Nov. 14 with a lower-body injury, took part in Tuesday's morning skate and could play Tuesday night.
"It's a good step in the right direction," Michalek told the team's website after Monday's practice. "It feels good, especially mentally, to be with the guys again and to get the practice under my belt. Hopefully I keep improving and getting better."
Michalek has four points and a plus-9 rating in 20 games, and is third on the team in ice time per game at 21:08.
"There's a lot of parts of the game that he touches," Tippett told the team's website. "You look at penalty killing and defending, the areas we're trying to improve in, [those] are areas that's his M.O. Getting him back would certainly help those areas."
Editor's Note: Click here to watch Michalek discuss possibly returning to the lineup tonight.
Center Antoine Vermette will enter tonight's game - his 700th career NHL game - riding a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists).
Forward Gilbert Brule, whom the Coyotes recalled from the American Hockey League on Tuesday, is with the team and may jump right into the lineup.
"I'm not sure if he'll play tonight," Tippett said after Tuesday's morning skate. "We'll see how the lineup shakes out."
This is Brule's second stint with the Coyotes. He played 33 regular-season and 12 playoff games for Phoenix in 2011-12.
"He's not a big guy but he's got a dynamic part to his game," Tippett said. "He brings energy and he can score so hopefully he's another one of those guys that can turn out to be a good fit for our lineup."
Avalanche: Not much was expected from Jan Hejda this season, but after going a combined minus-20 in his first two seasons in Colorado, he's ranks among the League leaders with a plus-17 in 26 games.
That made his loss to a knee injury Dec. 5 all that much tougher to take, but there is a chance he could return sooner than expected. A follow-up examination by doctors in Denver revealed that Hejda had a strain of his knee, and he could return skating this week and possibly return to the lineup as soon as the Avalanche's game Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
In addition to his high plus/minus number, Hejda has nine points, one shy of his total in 46 games last season.
Who's hot: Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro has 11 points in his past 11 games. … Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has six points in his past five games.
Injury report: Besides Doan, also out is forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) and defenseman Derek Morris (family issue). … Besides Hejda the Avalanche are missing forward Alex Tanguay (knee) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (back).
|Feb 28 '14||PHX 2 at COL 4||P. Stastny|
|Dec 10 '13||PHX 3 at COL 1||J. Szwarz|
|Nov 21 '13||COL 4 at PHX 3 - OT||R. O'Reilly|