NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 2nd
(All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (15-3-1) at Phoenix Coyotes (9-8-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said his club is looking at
a great opportunity coming up as an odd scheduling quirk has the Coyotes set
to play three straight against the Anaheim Ducks.
That is one way at looking at an upcoming stretch against one of the hottest
teams in the NHL and the Coyotes try to avoid becoming the Ducks' latest
victim in Saturday night's meeting in Phoenix.
The schedule of this lockout-shortened campaign has led to some odd string of
games for teams this year, but none may be as strange as this run of three
contests in five days between the Coyotes and Ducks. The Pacific Division
rivals are meeting for the first time this season and will see plenty of each
other over the next week.
The Coyotes will host the Ducks for two straight, including a rematch on
Monday before this series shifts to Anaheim for Wednesday's encounter.
When all is said and done, the Coyotes may have either chipped away at their
current 10-point deficit to the Ducks for first place in the standings, or
found themselves further buried in the playoff race.
"It is a little bit like a playoff series where after each game there are
subtle tweaks you want to make to try and get an advantage or correct issues
that might be in the game," Tippett said after practice on Friday. "It makes
it fun as a coach because you dig in and you've got to find ways to make your
team better while playing the same opponent. In the playoffs, that's what you
do every day. In a mini-series like this, with the points so valuable, that'll
be the case this time around."
Phoenix is currently bringing up the rear in the Pacific Division with 21
points, putting it 11th overall in the standings but still very much in the
mix for a playoff spot.
Anaheim, meanwhile, is second in the Western Conference to only the Chicago
Blackhawks, who have still yet to lose a game in regulation this season and
lead the NHL with 39 points.
The Ducks are eight off that pace but are off to their best start in franchise
history through 19 games, having gone 15-3-1. That betters the 13-2-4
beginning by the 2006-07 Stanley Cup-winning team.
Anaheim has won eight of its past nine overall and pushed its home winning
streak to eight in a row with Friday night's 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
It wasn't the finish that the Ducks would have liked as they nearly blew a 3-0
lead, giving up a pair of third-period goals before having to kill off a late
Wild power play.
Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne scored in the first period and Matt Beleskey
had what ended up being a huge tally in the second period. Jonas Hiller ended
with 31 saves.
"We felt pretty good coming into this season. Obviously nobody expects to
start the way we did, but guys are doing the right things," said Getzlaf, who
has three goals and 10 points over a five-game point streak.
Corey Perry assisted on Getzlaf's goal and has logged four goals and eight
helpers over a seven-game point streak.
The Coyotes come into this meeting a little fresher but also off Thursday's
4-3 loss to the Wild. Keith Yandle and Shane Doan scored late third-period
goals, with Doan's fifth tally of the season cutting the deficit to one with
59 seconds to play, but Phoenix couldn't complete the rally.
"When you get into as big a hole as we did it's tough to come back from. We
played better in the third period, but it's nothing to be proud of," said
Yandle following his club's third loss in four games.
Rostislav Klesla also scored, but Mike Smith gave up four goals on 19 shots
and was replaced after 40 minutes. Jason LaBarbera stopped all four shots he
faced in relief.
Doan, meanwhile, potted his 323rd career goal, matching Keith Tkachuk for
second place on the franchise's all-time list. Dale Hawerchuk is first with
379 career tallies.
The Coyotes and Ducks have split their past 12 meetings overall and last six
03/02 10:35:22 ET