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Coyotes-Blues Preview @NHLdotcom
Coyotes-Blues Preview

GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (24-24-2) at St. Louis Blues (11-29-8).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

When the St. Louis Blues host the Phoenix Coyotes, the game will feature a team with no playoff hopes and another that must start playing better to stay in the chase.

The Coyotes have lost seven of their last 11 games to fall six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

There is plenty of time to make up those six points, but a lack of offense has grown worrisome. The Coyotes have scored just 24 goals in those 11 games - an average of just 2.2.

Take away Friday's 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, and the Coyotes are averaging just 1.8 goals in the other 10 games.

The Coyotes have managed just 38 shots in their last two games. They put 20 shots on net in Tuesday's 3-2 defeat tot he Minnesota Wild.

Phoenix looked flat in Minnesota, one night after a 4-1 road loss to the Dallas Stars. The Coyotes were just 1-for-9 on the power play against the Wild and have converted just one of their last 23 chances with the man advantage.

"The bottom line is you're out there to score goals and when you don't do that, you're not doing your job," defenseman Keith Ballard said of the power-play woes.

Ballard and Geoff Sanderson scored for Phoenix. Sanderson and Shane Doan have four goals each in the last 11 games, and no one else on the team has more than two over that span.

The Blues suffered a frustrating 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars Wednesday, settling for a point after leading 3-2 with less than one minute to play in regulation.

Curtis Sanford, who did make 38 saves, allowed a goal to Philippe Boucher with 47 seconds to play and then was unable to stop Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen in the shootout.

"Sanford was phenomenal," Blues forward Dean McAmmond said. "He kept us in the game and he's been doing that of late. We should have come away with two points."

The shootout loss was the Blues' third in their last four games. All three came on the road, as the Blues fell to 1-5 in shootouts with defeats at Washington, Columbus and Dallas in the last week.

St. Louis right wing Mike Sillinger tallied his team-leading 20th goal against Dallas, giving him a goal in six straight games.

Right wing Jamal Mayers, who hasn't scored a goal in 12 games since Dec. 31, has three goals in two games against Phoenix this season.

STANDINGS: Coyotes - 50 points, 5th place, 16 PB, Pacific Division. Blues - 30 points, 5th place, 38 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Ladislav Nagy, Doan and Mike Comrie, 15 goals; Ladislav Nagy, 37 assists and 52 points; Sean O'Donnell, 108 PIM. Blues - Sillinger, 20 goals; Doug Weight, 32 assists and 42 points; Mayers, 100 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Coyotes - Power play: 18.1 percent (61 for 337), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.4 percent (254 for 316), 23rd. Blues - Power play: 15.6 percent (50 for 320), 23rd. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (235 for 291), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (19-13-0, 2 SO, 2.74 GAA); Brian Boucher (3-6-0, 0, 3.89). Blues - Sanford (5-10-4, 3, 2.79); Chris Beckford-Tseu (no record).

SEASON SERIES: Blues, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 20; Blues, 5-4. At Glendale, Ariz., the Blues broke a 3-3 tie with third-period goals from Mayers and Aaron Downey. The Coyotes outshot the Blues 27-10 in the final two periods, but they held on with rookie Jason Bacashihua in goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 11-14-1 on the road; Blues - 6-14-3 at home.

Associated Press

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