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Coyotes look to carry February surge into Calgary

by Mike G. Morreale
FLAMES (28-24-11) at COYOTES (33-21-9)

TV: SNET-West (HD)

Last 10:
Calgary 4-2-4; Phoenix 9-0-1

Season series:
This will be the third of four meetings -- the Coyotes have won the previous two. In the most recent confrontation in Calgary on Feb. 23, Ray Whitney scored the lone goal in a shootout to give Phoenix a 4-3 triumph. Mike Smith made 21 saves in the victory.

Big story: The Coyotes closed out the month of February as the League's hottest team, going 11-0-1 and earning 23 out of a possible 24 points. Since Dave Tippett's arrival in Phoenix in 2009-10, the Coyotes are 23-7-2 in February. The recent surge has enabled the Coyotes to jump seven teams and into third place in the Western Conference over the last three weeks.

"We talked about making February a big month for us and it has been," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We've taken advantage of being at home a little bit more and having some time to rest. We know March is going to be a tough grind. We have a long way to go to the finish, and we have to make sure we take care of business in our next little homestand."

Team Scope:

Flames: The Flames wrapped up a four-game homestand without a victory while earning just two points in a pair of shootout losses. The team dropped a 3-1 decision to the surging St. Louis Blues on Monday. Curtis Glencross scored the lone goal for Calgary, which is 11th in the Western Conference and three points behind eighth-seeded Dallas. The Flames have been outshot the last 11 straight games.

"We went through a spell here that we had some adversity we're dealing with and we have to handle it the right way and work ourselves through it," coach Brent Sutter said.

Coyotes: The Coyotes, who scored a 2-1 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, are 9-3-1 against Northwest Division foes this season. Ray Whitney's goal with 10:17 left in the third period tied the game and then Whitney and Mikkel Boedker connected in the shootout to give the Coyotes the victory over the Canucks. Goalie Mike Smith made 39 saves through 65 minutes before stopping Alexander Edler and Mason Raymond in the tiebreaker.

Who's hot:
Smith has won his last 11 starts for Phoenix and was a perfect 11-0 in the month of February. He's allowed just 16 goals in those 11 games and stopped 315 of 331 shots (.952 save percentage) with two shutouts.

Injury report:
In Phoenix, Gilbert Brule has missed three games with a head injury and is questionable. Kyle Chipchura (wrist), Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (strained groin/personal) and David Schlemko (foot surgery) are all on injured reserve. … The Flames are without forwards Mikael Backlund (shoulder), Blair Jones (broken ankle), Lee Stempniak (ankle sprain) and David Moss (foot). Defenseman Chris Butler (thigh) is also sidelined.

Stat pack: Doan reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons last Saturday when he connected for the insurance goal in third period of a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. … The Flames have a 19-0-4 record when leading after two periods.

Puck drop:
"That was a heck of a month by any team's standards," Whitney said following his team's shootout win over the Canucks on Tuesday. "We had to earn the (wins) both home and road. We beat some quality teams, and getting three out of four points against the team we played tonight is impressive. We realize that if we work hard we can compete with the big boys."

The Coyotes' only blemish on their current run was a 2-1 overtime loss to the Canucks on Feb. 13.

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