LIGHTNING (19-23-4) at COYOTES (21-19-8)
TV: SUN (HD); FS-A (HD)
Tampa Bay 3-6-1, Phoenix 3-3-4
Just one matchup this season after two straight seasons of home-and-homes. The Bolts won both meetings last season and have won three of the last four. The Coyotes probably remember the last time these two teams met on Feb. 23, 2011, as the Lightning stormed past them by an 8-3 score. Teddy Purcell
scored his first career hat trick, Martin St. Louis
had two goals and Vinny Lecavalier scored a goal as part of a five-point night.
Big Story: One team is trying to get back into the playoff hunt, the other trying to stay in it. Neither has been a model of consistency all season. The Lightning managed to snap a seven-game winless streak by beating the Boston Bruins and then held off the Stars in Dallas to win 2-1 on Friday, ending a six-game losing streak on the road. The Coyotes are still in the thick of things out West, two points out of the eighth seed, but are treading water as other teams move up in the standings.
Lightning: The big question going into Friday's game at American Airlines Center whether the Bolts could build on their big win against Boston. They looked like the team that stared the Bruins down for seven games in last year's Eastern Conference Final when they beat them 5-3 on Tuesday, and they ended up turning in one of the better two-way games they've played this season, giving Mathieu Garon plenty of defensive support in the win.
The victories have the Lightning looking forward again after their recent slide dropped them into the depths of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"Obviously we haven't had the results that we wanted all year, but we had three big games before the All-Star break. We never stopped believing," said Purcell, who scored both goals. "Two good wins we put together. We've got to finish it off tomorrow night."
Coyotes: Martin Hanzal missed 12 games after being hit in the head with a stick and was only supposed to see limited time against Detroit on Thursday. But that was before Daymond Langkow was hit in the face with a puck early in the game. Instead, 12 became the number of different line combinations he played with, centering 10 different forwards in the 3-2 shootout loss. He doled out five hits, won nine of 12 faceoffs, fired three shots and spent time on both the power play and the penalty kill in his 18-minute outing.
"It's always tough when you lose a guy in the game, and we only had three centermen," Hanzal said to the Arizona Republic. "It was pretty hard, but I think we did pretty good, especially in back-to-back games."
"Hanz went from 10 to 11 (minutes) to double in a hurry," coach Dave Tippett said. "Obviously our center position has been banged up here a little bit. You lose Langks ... it takes a lot of push out of your team."
Who's Hot: The Coyotes better be ready for Purcell again. Two goals in Dallas, his third and fourth in five games, indicate he's ready to light them up like he did 11 months ago. Steven Stamkos had his five-game points streak snapped Friday night but has been held off the board only one other time since before Christmas (12 games). Lecavalier is on a four-game points streak. Martin St. Louis has a goal and 16 assists in 14 games since returning from injury. … Kyle Chipchura snapped a 73-game goal-scoring drought in Anaheim and hasn't let up since, picking up assists on both goals in the Detroit game.
Injury Report: Langkow's injury looked worse than it was, as he is expected back in the lineup Saturday. Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko underwent surgery on his right foot last week, keeping him out another 6-8 weeks on top of that. Aucoin (lower body) has missed two games so far with his third injury in the last month and remains questionable. … Tampa Bay's Tom Pyatt (lower body) is day-to-day after leaving Thursday's practice limping. Ryan Shannon (knee) skated with a no-contact jersey while J.T Wyman (pinkie) and Adam Hall (forearm) took the ice after morning skate. Coach Guy Boucher said Hall may be ahead of schedule from the original six-to-eight-week prognosis.
Stat Pack: In 28 meetings since the Lightning entered the League in 1992-93, these teams have never played beyond regulation time. .. Tampa Bay's 3.41 goals allowed per game is worst in the NHL. .. Neither team is much of a threat on the power play, the Lightning ranked 27th and the Coyotes 29th. … Because Garon started Friday, Dwayne Roloson is likely to start for the Lightning; if so, he will be trying to end a personal seven-game losing streak (0-6-1).
Puck Drop: A big part of Tampa Bay's trouble during its recent slump was poor starts -- the Bolts often found themselves down a goal or two early in the game. That wasn't the case against Boston, and the Lightning again did the job defensively in the opening period against Dallas -- outshooting the Stars 13-5 and taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
"We've been focusing on our starts, specifically on the road," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "We had a lot of shots in the first period and didn't give up a lot."