COYOTES (9-5-0) at AVALANCHE (10-3-2)
Last 10 --
Phoenix 7-3-0; Colorado 7-2-1
Season series --
First of four meetings this season. Phoenix went 3-0-1 last season, with captain Shane Doan
accounting for three goals. Colorado did beat Ilya Bryzgalov in his only start, picking up a 5-4 overtime win on Dec. 23, 2008.
Big story --
Injuries and travel appear to have taken their toll on the Avalanche, who have lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season. They managed just one goal and 43 shots in losing at San Jose and Vancouver to finish off a four-game road trip. Perhaps a return to the Pepsi Center will reinvigorate Colorado, which has played only four home games this season and won them all.
Ilya Bryzgalov got a rare night off Monday against Los Angeles and Phoenix looked poised to capture two points behind backup Jason LaBarbera
, carrying a two-goal lead into the final minute of the second period. But the Kings scored late in the second and added three in the third as the Coyotes fell, 5-3, snapping a three-game winning streak. Doan said it's a wake-up call for the team to start playing better.
"The St. Louis game and the Detroit game we were fortunate enough to win those games and the other night against Anaheim we were fortunate to win that game," Doan said. "We’re pushing the envelope and tonight we weren’t good enough."
Goaltender Craig Anderson was named the NHL's First Star for October on Monday. He's started all 15 games for the Avalanche, posting a 2.11 goals-against average and a League-leading .936 save percentage. His last start may have been his least effective, as he yielded three goals on 20 shots in a 3-0 loss at Vancouver. Peter Budaj figures to get at least one start in the upcoming stretch of three straight and four out of five at home.
"(Anderson) has played amazing and he's deserved to get all the starts he has -- and we've been winning games, so it's all good," Budaj told the Denver Post. "I just want to be able to contribute to the team any way I can and hopefully I can get some wins."
Who's hot --
Doan had a goal and an assist against the Kings to take over the Coyotes' scoring lead with 12 points.
Injury report --
Forwards Darcy Tucker (concussion) and Cody McLeod
(eye) missed Colorado's road trip, but McLeod at least could return for this game. Forward Matt Hendricks (groin) and defensemen Tom Preissing (knee) and Ruslan Salei (back) are all on injured reserve.
Stat pack --
Bryzgalov, who earned the NHL's Third Star for October, leads all goaltenders in GAA (1.78) and shutouts (three). He'll try to pick up where he left off, perhaps in a duel with Anderson.
Puck drop --
After letting two points get away on Monday, the Coyotes will have their work cut out trying to become the first road team to win in Colorado this season. Will two days off and the return home help the Avalanche rediscover their winning ways?
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com