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Coyotes Seek Third Straight Win

Saturday, 12.14.2013 / 1:49 PM | Dave Vest

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Coyotes Seek Third Straight Win
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Phoenix Coyotes

HURRICANES (13-13-7) at COYOTES (18-8-5)

Big story: The Coyotes have won two games in a row and are trying to keep pace in the Western Conference standings.The Hurricanes could have a chance to get some separation from the pack of teams competing for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix is 3-1-1 in its past five games and is in eighth place in the West, just where the Coyotes were before this five-game stretch.

Phoenix continues to produce offense at unexpected levels. They scored six goals in a win against the New York Islanders on Thursday. That gives them three six-goal games in the past 11 contests. They had four in the previous three seasons combined.

Center Mike Ribeiro now leads the team in scoring with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 31 games and he has notched 15 points in his last 13 contests.

"I'm feeling more comfortable with the puck and keeping the puck a little bit longer and trying to create chances for my teammates," Ribeiro said after Saturday's morning skate.

Phoenix has also dominated Eastern Conference teams. The 6-3 victory against the Islanders improved the Coyotes' record against the East to 8-1-1. That mark includes a 5-3 win at Carolina on Oct. 13.

Head Coach Dave Tippett is expecting a tough challenge vs. the Hurricanes in the rematch.

"This is going to be a very hard game," Tippett said. "This team is at the end of a road trip and they're going to leave everything they can on the ice. We need to play well if we're going to have a chance to win."

Mike Smith, who is 2-0-1 in his past three games, will start in goal.

Defenseman Derek Morris, who left the team because of a family matter last week, returned to the team at Saturday's morning skate. However, Tippett said Morris would not play vs. Carolina, the team's last home game before a four-game trip next week.

"It's good to see him back in the locker room," Tippett said. "I think he's happy to be back... He'll get a good practice today and a good practice (on Sunday) and hopefully he'll be ready for the trip."

Carolina has lost three in a row, but in the Metropolitan Division that isn't always a problem. The Hurricanes were in fourth place in the Metro after games played on Dec. 8. Three losses (two in overtime) in four days later and the Hurricanes were alone in third place in the division by two points.

The Hurricanes lost Cam Ward to injury for 11 games and dropped the first five of those contests in regulation. Since then, Carolina is 9-6-4, including victories against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche. Ward is healthy again, Alexander Semin is back from a concussion and the Hurricanes have a chance to gain a better grasp on an automatic playoff position.

Carolina got one point on Thursday night but missed a chance for another when defenseman Chris Butler scored with 3.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Calgary Flames a 2-1 victory. Jeff Skinner's third-period goal forced overtime, but Skinner was stopped on a late penalty shot and Butler's goal gave the Flames the extra point.

"We knew we would have to work hard tonight because Calgary has been working hard here," coach Kirk Muller said afterwards. "We had a little lapse in the second, but I thought we really came on strong again in the third. The guys stayed with it. It's a big point when you come out West."

Who's hot: Ribeiro is tops among all Coyotes forwards in shooting percentage at 18 percent, and Phoenix is 6-0-0 in games that he registers multiple points.... Skinner has seven goals in his past six contests for the Hurricanes.

Injury report: Coyotes captain Shane Doan has not played since Dec. 4 because of an unspecified illness and will not play vs. Carolina. Forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) remains out... Defensemen Mike Komisarek (lower body) and Joni Pitkanen (heel) are out for the Hurricanes, along with goaltender Anton Khudobin (lower body). Defenseman Brett Bellemore, who hasn't played since Dec. 3 because of a concussion, wore a normal jersey at practice Friday; he had been wearing a no-contact sweater. Forward Elias Lindholm left the game Thursday early with an injury and is questionable.

2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 14 '13 CAR 3 at PHX 1 J. Skinner
Oct 13 '13 PHX 5 at CAR 3 R. Klinkhammer
E. Staal3491928-83410
J. Skinner2312921+31032
A. Sekera3261218+21430
J. Staal347714+21010
N. Gerbe347714-32221
J. Faulk3421214-21800
A. Semin22369-61220
R. Murphy31279-7610
J. Tlusty34448-61001
P. Dwyer31448+3602
T. Ruutu29448-92011
R. Hainsey34358-41001
R. Nash30347+31901
E. Lindholm21347-4211
J. Harrison30257+33000
R. Dvorak28336+61402
D. Bowman31235-2800
M. Malhotra22134+41001
B. Bellemore24112+01100
T. Gleason12011-5600
Z. Boychuk1011+1000
K. Westgarth12000-2400
B. Sutter12000-5900
M. Komisarek10000-1400
C. Terry7000-3000
J. Peters177-8-2375182.16.929
C. Ward165-5-5454563.04.901
A. Khudobin32-0-05702.00.929
M. Ribeiro3291726-21422
R. Vrbata3091625-31232
S. Doan27121123+1862
M. Hanzal2981422-33721
K. Yandle3241822-52420
M. Boedker3291221-11220
O. Ekman-Larsson3241721+82023
A. Vermette3291019+51820
R. Klinkhammer327714+14801
D. Morris214913+41000
D. Moss323811+4600
M. Stone26718-41421
L. Korpikoski18437+01200
K. Chipchura32246-42500
P. Bissonnette20156+41100
T. Kennedy17156+1200
D. Schlemko24145-3800
J. Halpern21134-61000
Z. Michalek23044+101000
R. Klesla15123-11000
C. Murphy9123+2601
J. Szwarz16202-51901
A. Miele4022+2500
D. Rundblad10011-3400
C. Brown5000+01700
L. Lessio3000-2200
B. Yip2000+0000
M. Smith2714-7-5788742.98.911
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