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Coyotes chase Pacific lead as they host Blues

by Dan Rosen
BLUES (32-31-9) at COYOTES (39-24-11)

TV -- FS-MW (HD), FS-A (HD)

Last 10 --
St. Louis 4-6-0; Phoenix 6-3-1

Season series -- Phoenix leads the season series 2-1. The Coyotes won at home on Nov. 13 and in St. Louis on Jan. 10. The Blues beat the Coyotes at home on Dec. 31.

Big Story -- The Coyotes are actually closer to first in the Pacific Division than they are to eighth in the Western Conference. They will open play Tuesday three points behind San Jose thanks to a five-game winning streak that came to an end Sunday against Chicago. The Sharks don't play again until Wednesday. The Blues are hoping to finish off a four-game road trip by playing the spoiler role.

Team Scope:

Blues -- While not mathematically eliminated, the Blues are 12 points back in 13th place in the West and are pretty much in the spoiler's seat right now. They had a chance to help out the Coyotes over the weekend, but lost in San Jose, 5-3. They are 1-2 on their current four-game road trip with the win coming in Los Angeles last Thursday. They had won three in a row prior to this road trip. St. Louis gave up 45 shots in Saturday's loss at San Jose. Jaroslav Halak was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots in the first period.

"In retrospect, they're (the Sharks) a pretty good team with a lot of firepower," forward David Backes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Coyotes -- Their well-timed six-game homestand started with a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday. The Coyotes had won their previous five games. They blew a chance to pull within a point of the Sharks for first in the Pacific Division, but the Coyotes definitely have not run out of time. They still have five games left on the current homestand that will take them into April and will play six of their final eight games at Arena

Phoenix hasn't given up more than two goals in any of its last three games and has allowed three just once in its last eight games. The Coyotes gave up the winning goal Sunday after Shane Doan was called for holding Niklas Hjalmarsson. Doan and coach Dave Tippett vehemently disagreed with the call, but it stood and Chris Campoli scored with 14 seconds left on the power play.

"We have to win. That's all it comes down to," Doan said. "I don't care what happens in the game, we just have to find ways to win."

Who's Hot -- Coyotes center Eric Belanger has points in four straight games (2-3-5) and in six out of his last seven (4-5-9). Belanger had zero points in the six games prior to his hot streak.

Injury Report -- Coyotes center Martin Hanzal has missed seven straight games with a lower-body injury. … Blues defenseman Barret Jackman (finger) and centers Alexander Steen (ankle) and David Perron (concussion) are out for the season.

Stat Pack -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin played his 1,000th career NHL game Sunday, becoming the second Phoenix defenseman to reach the milestone this season. Fellow Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle leads all NHL blue-liners with 46 assists and he's second in points with 57.

Puck Drop -- Tippett on his disappointment Sunday after the holding call on Doan wound up costing the Coyotes the game: "I've watched it about 20 times. I don't understand it … I don't understand it all. To me there's no hold whatsoever there. It's disappointing that a call like that can have an impact like that in a very competitive game in a very tight playoff race. But it's the reality of what happened. We have to deal with it and move on."

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