GLENDALE -- The Coyotes are climbing the Western Conference standings and backup goalie Thomas Greiss is playing a key role.
Greiss, who is subbing for injured starter Mike Smith, posted his eighth and ninth victories of the season this week as the Coyotes earned key road victories at Pittsburgh and New Jersey.
"We have a ton of confidence in 'Greisser,'" captain Shane Doan said on Thursday, after Greiss stopped 26 of 28 shots he faced in 65 minutes vs. New Jersey, plus all three he saw in the shootout. "Everybody in here has been shooting on him all year and when he has gone in (the games), he has been amazing."
Greiss has posted nine wins in his first year with Phoenix. That ties his career-high for victories in a season, which he set playing for San Jose in 2011-12. It’s also the most by a Coyotes’ backup goaltender since Mikael Tellqvist posted nine in 2007-08.
"The team is playing great," Greiss said. "They're blocking difficult shots and they're taking chances away (from opponents). That helps me out a lot and gives me confidence."
• Next up for the Coyotes is a home game vs. the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night. It’s a significant game considering Phoenix (84 points) is within just one point of the Wild (85 points) in the race for the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
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• The Coyotes did not practice on Friday so updates on the condition of Smith and forward David Moss are not expected until after Saturday’s morning skate. Moss suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Thursday’s game.
• Center Kyle Chipchura notched a goal and an assist on Thursday for his fourth multi-point game of the season. He has tallied eight points (two goals, six assists) in the past 14 games after notching nine (two goals, seven assists) in his first 58 games this season.
• Defenseman Chris Summers chipped in a goal and assist in Thursday’s 3-2 win at New Jersey. It was the first multi-point game of the season and the second of his NHL career.
• Coyotes prospect Zac Larraza and his University of Denver teammates are the No. 4 seed in the Northeast Regional of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Their first game is Saturday at 1 p.m. (MST) vs. No. 1 seed Boston College. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
The Coyotes selected Larraza, a junior from Scottsdale, with the 196th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Meanwhile, prospects Connor Clifton and Jedd Soleway also are taking part in this year's NCAA tournament.
Clifton, a defenseman whom the Coyotes selected with the 133rd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, is playing for Quinnipiac, the No. 2 seed in the East Regional, which begins play vs. No. 3 seed Providence today at 2:30 p.m. (MST)
Soleway, a forward whom the Coyotes selected with the 193rd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, is playing for Wisconsin, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional, which begins play vs. No. 4 seed North Dakota today at 5 p.m. (MST).