COYOTES (35-18-5) at STARS (25-21-11)
Last 10 -- Phoenix 8-2-0; Dallas 6-4-0
Season series -- The teams are meeting for the fourth time this season, and the Coyotes are visiting American Airlines Center for the second time in seven days. Phoenix has won the first three games, 3-2 and 5-2 at home two weeks apart in November, and 4-2 in Dallas last Sunday -- a game that marked ex-Stars coach Dave Tippett's return to his former home.
Big story -- While Washington and Ottawa have rolled up double-figure winning streaks, the Coyotes have quietly won six in a row, including Friday's 2-1 shootout win at Chicago. Phoenix now has 75 points, just four fewer than the Coyotes managed all last season, and is 11 points clear of ninth-place Detroit as the 'Yotes try for their first playoff berth since 2002.
Coyotes -- OK, everyone who expected the Coyotes to be in the top four in the Western Conference, raise your hands. But that's exactly where they are after back-to-back shootout victories at Nashville and Chicago extended their winning streak to six games. It's their longest streak since they won seven in a row midway through the 2006-07 season.
Phoenix is 9-2-0 in its last 11 -- and Tippett wants more.
"We're trying to push this thing as far as we can," he said after Friday's win at Chicago. "There's a push before the (Olympic) break and a push after."
Stars -- Dallas is glad to be back in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center. Thursday's 2-1 loss at Columbus dropped the Stars to 1-10-2 in their last 13 road games. In contrast, they are 17-6-5 at home.
"All year the road's been a nemesis," goaltender Marty Turco said after the loss to the Jackets -- a game in which R.J. Umberger's empty-netter proved to be the winning goal. "Tonight's game isn't going to give us any confidence. We weren't intense enough, in my mind, finishing checks and doing the little things."
Who's hot -- Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who got the night off on Friday but figures to start against the Stars, has won his last five starts and is coming off a 1-0 shootout victory in Nashville on Tuesday. … Dallas' Brad Richards has goals in his last two games and is on pace for a career year with 61 points in 55 games.
Injury report -- Phoenix will be without forward Scottie Upshall for the rest of the season due to a knee injury that required surgery. … The Stars were without three centers in the loss to Columbus when Mike Modano couldn't play with a lower-body injury. Mike Ribeiro (throat contusion) and Tom Wandell (knee surgery) were already out.
Stat pack -- Bryzgalov's 1-0 shootout win over the Predators was the third of his career. No other goaltender has more than one. He has two this season; the other one came against Dallas in 2008-09. … Dallas has four players in the top 25 in hits, with Steve Ott and Stephane Robidas tied for fourth with 190.
Puck drop -- The Coyotes started their four-game trip with a win in Dallas and would like to end it the same way. But the Stars, now five points out of the last playoff spot in the West, are increasingly desperate and can't afford a second loss to their division rival at home.