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Coyotes Return to Road for 3 Games in 4 Nights

by Anthony Perez | Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- After earning a 5-1 home victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, the Coyotes are back on the road, this time for a challenging stretch of three games in four nights this week.

“We have to go (on the road) and play hard, play our game, which I thought we did real well the other night against the Islanders,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Monday’s practice at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. “Strong defending and good goaltending and finding ways to win hockey games, that’ll be our mindset. It starts tomorrow (at New York).”

Photo by Norm Hall.
The Coyotes own a 12-9-2 road record, which is second-best in the Western Conference, something Tippett credits to his team’s approach and the number of games his team has played away from Arena already this season.

“It seems like we haven’t played anywhere else but on the road,” Tippett said. “But our team is comfortable playing on the road. We kind of play a road mentality in the game all the time and we’ve been able to find a few more points on the road than we have at home.”

Center Martin Hanzal and defenseman David Schlemko did not accompany the team on this trip.

Schlemko stayed behind because he is nursing a lower-body injury he suffered in Saturday’s win. Tippett said he expects Schlemko to be sidelined on a week-to-week basis.

Hanzal skated on Monday - mostly on his own - and still isn't ready to return. He has been sidelined since suffering an upper-body injury in the game played on Dec. 23 vs. St. Louis.

Boyd Gordon
Meanwhile, center Boyd Gordon did go with the team on this trip, and Tippett said Gordon likely would return to action on Thursday vs. Detroit.

Defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who has missed the past two games because of swelling over his right eye, practiced with teammates on Monday and could return to action as soon as Tuesday at New York.

The first stop on the trip is Tuesday at Madison Square Garden for a game vs. the Rangers, who are riding a four-game winning streak.

Forward Lauri Korpikoski says that even though his stint in New York was short, it’s always fun to play against the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

“Of course, the team has changed a little bit, but there’s still the same guys working there with the team when I was there for three or four years in the system,” said Korpikoski, who played in 68 games for the Rangers during the 2008-09 season. “It’s good to see those guys. It’s a top-notch organization and they treated me really well when I was there. I’m happy to be in Phoenix right now, but it’s always fun to go back.”

Photo by Getty Images.
After New York, the Coyotes will go and play an all-too-familiar opponent - the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings, of course, have eliminated the Coyotes from the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons. This year, Phoenix dropped a 5-2 decision to the Wings in Detroit on Dec. 8.

The Coyotes will then play their second game in as many nights when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Friday.

The Blue Jackets have collected just 27 points through 41 games this season, but they will feature a new head coach behind their bench on Friday. Assistant Coach Todd Richards was appointed interim head coach on Monday after Scott Arniel was relieved of his duties.

Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who was drafted in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets, says that while this Columbus team looks a little different from the one that traded him to Phoenix back on February 28, 2011, he’s still excited to play against them.

“It’s going to be kind of cool to play against them because I know their tendencies and the players they are,” said Klesla, who will be playing in his first game against his former team. “We’ve got to have a big win there, take it home and carry over from there.”

After Friday, the Coyotes will play seven of their next eight games at home.
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