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Can Coyotes continue potent offense vs. Flames?

by Brian Hunter
COYOTES (7-5-5) at FLAMES (7-9-0)


Last 10:
Phoenix 5-3-2; Calgary 4-6-0

Season Series:
Second meeting, not only of the season but in a span of six days. Calgary will seek to turn the tables after Phoenix claimed a 5-4 win on its home ice on Nov. 12 with Vernon Fiddler recording his first career hat trick.

Big Story:
Fortunes have turned in opposite directions for these teams over the past several weeks. The Coyotes have won three straight and have at least a point in six of the seven games they've played this month, while the Flames enter having lost six of seven. And unlike Phoenix, which has gained five extra points from overtime or shootout losses, all of Calgary's defeats have come in regulation time.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Lately, a team that rolled to a franchise-record 107 points last season mainly due to its defense and goaltending is winning games thanks to offensive heroics -- often by a single player. Phoenix has had three different forwards (Lee Stempniak, Fiddler and Ray Whitney) and one defenseman (Ed Jovanovski) record a hat trick already this season, with Fiddler and Whitney accomplishing the feat on back-to-back nights last week against Calgary and St. Louis. The goals for Whitney were his first with the Coyotes and helped them beat the Blues 5-3 on Saturday.

"The first one wasn't pretty, and a lot of times those are just what you need to get going," said Whitney, who factored in on all five Phoenix goals with a pair of assists.

Flames: Back home for a pair after a four-game road trip that saw Calgary lose three of four despite only being outscored by a 13-12 margin, coach Brent Sutter is stressing preparation and the mental side of the game in trying to shake the Flames out of their funk.

"We went through a lot of teaching last year and there's still a lot of teaching this year but at some point you have to get it," Sutter said. "You have to understand this is how we need to play, how we have to play.

"You make a mistake, you learn from it and move on and don't make it again. We have a tendency of making a lot of the same mistakes over and over again and it's hurt us. We have to wake up to that as it's affecting us in the win-loss column. We're certainly not getting enough wins and we certainly need to change that."

Who's Hot:
With his big night, Whitney (3-8-11) surged into the Coyotes' scoring lead. … Rene Bourque (8-6-14) leads the Flames in scoring and has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last four games.

Injury Report: Phoenix captain Shane Doan (upper body) and defenseman Kurt Sauer (concussion) are on injured reserve. … Calgary defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Ryan Stone (knee), Ales Kotalik (knee) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: The Coyotes last had back-to-back hat tricks when Jeremy Roenick recorded them against both the Devils and Avalanche in November 1999. … Flames captain Jarome Iginla was a career-worst minus-4 the last time these teams met.

Puck Drop:
Whitney, a nine-time 20-goal scorer and two-time 30-goal scorer, was signed over the summer to add more punch to what had often been a feeble Phoenix attack last season, but a nagging hand injury caused him to miss a couple games and contributed to him posting just 6 assists over his first 14 games in the desert.

"I have been through (goal-scoring) droughts before and there were five or six games where I questioned whether I should be in the lineup at all with the injury to my hand," he said. "I wasn't quite looking at it as 14 games (without a goal). I did the best I could for about six or seven, but yes, it was starting to weigh on me."

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