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Coyotes, Smith look to extend winning streaks

Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 4:57 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Coyotes, Smith look to extend winning streaks
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will look to stay unbeaten in regulation for the 13th straight game Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames.

The franchise record is 14 (12-0-2), set in 1998 by a Coyotes team that featured Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick and Nikolai Khabibulin.

After starting the season with a 7-8-2 record at Arena, the Coyotes have turned things around. Since Dec. 26, Phoenix is 10-2-2 in the last 14 games on home ice, outscoring opponents by a margin of 43-27 during that stretch.

The Coyotes still have five regulars, including three defensemen (Rostislav Klesla, Derek Morris and David Schlemko) on the injured list and none of those players are expected back before next week. But coach Dave Tippett has been impressed by the play of rookies Chris Summers and Michael Stone during this run -- the Coyotes are unbeaten (5-0-0) with them in the lineup -- and could have some difficult decisions once the sidelined blueliners return.

Mike Smith will make his 51st start of the season and shoot for his 12th consecutive win. The League’s First Star of the Month was 11-0-0 in February with a 1.42 goals-against average and .952 save percentage. He already owns the franchise record for consecutive wins, and a victory Thursday would gave him the longest streak in the League this year. A win also would give him 30 in a season for the first time in his career.

Here's the lineup the Coyotes likely will use tonight:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith will start in net, with Jason LaBarbera the backup.
Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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