COYOTES (40-22-5) at HURRICANES (28-31-8)
Phoenix 6-4-0; Carolina 8-1-1
This is the only meeting this season. In the last matchup, on Feb. 7, 2009, Carolina netted four power-play goals in a 7-2 road win. Tuomo Ruutu
paced the Hurricanes with two goals and an assist and Sergei Samsonov added a goal and three assists. On Nov. 21, 2008, Eric Staal
scored a hat trick and Ray Whitney
added two goals to lead the Hurricanes to a 5-2 home win.
The Hurricanes are the hottest team in the NHL with eight wins in their last 10 games, but remain eight points out of a playoff spot. The Coyotes, bidding for their first playoff berth since 2002, are trying to hold onto a slim lead over Los Angeles for second place in the Pacific Division and the likely No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, which carries home ice advantage in the first round.
This is the start of a four-game road trip for Phoenix, which last played on Wednesday, a 4-3 shootout victory at home against Vancouver.
Defenseman Adrian Aucoin
ended a wild six-round shootout with his third goal in as many tries this season. Two of Aucoin's three shootout goals have decided games.
One line accounted for all of the Coyotes' scoring as Lee Stempniak
scored twice, Taylor Pyatt
added a goal and an assist and Vernon Fiddler recorded two assists.
"We're very fortunate to get any points out of the game, let alone two," coach Dave Tippett said. "As a group we didn't compete anywhere near where we should have. If I could have left the (Pyatt, Fiddler, Stempniak) line out there the whole game, I would have. They were three of the few forwards who competed out there."
Following Saturday's game, the Coyotes will play 10 of their final 14 games on the road.
This is the second game in a four-game homestand that began with a 4-3 overtime win against Pittsburgh on Thursday. Recently-acquired defenseman Brian Pothier scored the decisive goal 23 seconds into the extra period. Also visiting the RBC Center will be Boston and Washington.
In their 17 games since Jan. 21, the Hurricanes have gone 13-4-0 and outscored their opponents 57-33. In that span, Carolina's power play has gone 17-for-73 and its penalty kill is 56-for-61.
"We're still trying to fight. We know there's a chance," rookie Zach Boychuk
said. "We know we're one of the hottest teams in the League right now. If we can keep up this pace and give strong efforts against teams like Pittsburgh and Washington, it could be interesting down to the end."
For the Coyotes, Stempniak has 3 goals and 2 assists in four games, Wojtek Wolski has 2 goals and an assist in three games, Radim Vrbata
has a goal and an assist in three games, and Fiddler has a goal and 3 assists in three games. … For the Hurricanes, Brandon Sutter
has 4 goals and 4 assists in seven games, Ruutu has 2 goals and 5 assists in five games, Joni Pitkanen
has a goal and an assist in two games, and Jussi Jokinen
has 3 goals and an assist in three games.
For the Coyotes, Kurt Sauer
(upper-body) and Scottie Upshall (lower-body) are on injured reserve, and Robert Lang (lower-body) is day-to-day. … For the Hurricanes, Cam Ward
(upper-body) is day-to-day.
In last Saturday's victory against Anaheim, Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov set a new franchise record for wins in a season with 34. … With his next power-play goal, Staal will reach 72 for his career, passing Kevin Dineen for second in franchise history. … Carolina is 9-15-3 in back-to-back games this season, including a 3-9-2 record in the first halves and a 6-6-1 record in the back halves. … On Wednesday, the Coyotes earned their 40th victory of the season, matching their highest win total since relocating to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996-97 (40-27-9-6 in 2001-02). The Coyotes/Jets franchise record for wins and points in a season is 43 and 96, respectively, both of which came during the 1984-85 season.
"I think we didn't play up to our standard, but good teams find ways to get points and we did that, but at the same time we know we have to be better." -- Stempniak to the Arizona Republic following Wednesday's shootout win against Vancouver.