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Coyotes aim to extend home streak vs. Avalanche

by Eric Goodman

AVALANCHE (15-5-0) at COYOTES (14-4-3)


Last 10: Colorado 6-4-0; Phoenix 8-1-1

Season series: This is the first of three games this season. The Phoenix Coyotes were 2-0-1 against the Colorado Avalanche in 2012-13.

Big story: The Coyotes have not lost a home game in regulation this season (9-0-1) and can extend that streak to 11 on Thursday, a streak that would match a club record set in 1998-99 when ties were counted in the standings. The Coyotes also are seeking to extend their home winning streak to nine. The Avalanche will try to avoid a third straight road loss when they visit Arena.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado came out of the gate with a season-opening six-game winning streak and won its first six road games, but has since lost three of its past four games. The Avalanche were outscored by an aggregate of 13-5 during a three-game losing streak before turning things around with a convincing 5-1 win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at home on Tuesday.

The effort against Chicago was more typical of the way Colorado has played this season under first-year coach Patrick Roy. Goalie Semyon Varlamov bounced back with 36 saves, and the scoring was balanced, with goals coming from five different players.

Roy confirmed that Varlamov would be his starter Thursday.

He prepared his players for the Coyotes by stressing the need for a strong offensive presence in front of the crease during practice Wednesday.

"We want to make sure that we do a better job around the net, picking up those rebounds," Roy said. "That's where we think this game is played."

Coyotes: A four-day hiatus from game action may not be ideal for Phoenix, which comes into the Colorado game winners in three of its past four games and carrying the 10-game point streak at home. But coach Dave Tippett and his players kept their focus throughout the break and are determined to pick up where they left off Saturday, when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3.

"You can spin [the break] either way," Tippett told the Coyotes website following practice Tuesday. "We got some bumps and bruises, and that will help guys get through. But when things are going well, you want to keep playing."

Who's hot: Paul Stastny has points in six of his past seven games, with four goals and three assists over that span. ... Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past five games.

Injury report: The "bumps and bruises" Tippett referenced concern forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body), and defensemen Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and Derek Morris (lower body). Korpikoski and Michalek will not play, but Morris will appear in his first game since Nov. 5. ... Avalanche center Matt Duchene missed the Chicago game with an oblique injury, and Roy confirmed Wednesday that Duchene would not join the team for its two-game road trip. Defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee) are on injured reserve.

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