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Coyotes shoot for eight straight vs. skidding Ducks

by Brian Hunter
DUCKS (10-11-3) at COYOTES (11-5-5)


Last 10:
Anaheim 4-4-2; Phoenix 7-1-2

Season series:
Second of six meetings this season between these Pacific Division rivals. Anaheim blew a two-goal lead but won 3-2 on home ice when Corey Perry scored with 5:37 remaining on Oct. 17. Defensemen Cam Fowler and Toni Lydman also scored for the Ducks -- for Fowler, the No. 12 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, it was his first NHL goal. Scottie Upshall and Eric Belanger had third-period goals to rally the Coyotes.

Big story:
These teams enter at opposite ends of the Pacific standings, though only four points separate first place from fifth in the division. More telling is where they have been headed lately -- the Coyotes surged into first on the strength of a seven-game win streak which they will try to extend Saturday, while the streaky Ducks are winless in six (0-4-2) after starting November with six-straight victories.
Team Scope:

Ducks: Goals have been a scarce commodity for Anaheim, which has only 10 during its recent skid. The Ducks just finished a three-game homestand without picking up a point and will head into the desert for Saturday's matchup with the Coyotes before going back to the Honda Center for four straight. Dan Sexton's power-play goal got them off to a strong start against visiting Chicago on Friday, but it was the lone highlight in a 4-1 defeat that saw Jonas Hiller pulled after the Blackhawks erupted for three goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period.

"It didn't look like they had to work too hard to get their chances," Hiller said. "We gave away too much. It's just not possible against such a good team."

Coyotes: The franchise record of nine-straight wins, set last March 4-21 as Phoenix put together its all-time best 107-point season, is now within sight after a 5-0 whitewashing of Edmonton on Tuesday. The Coyotes could tie it by beating the Ducks and Predators (in Nashville on Tuesday) and break it with a victory Wednesday over the Wild in Minnesota. But that's getting ahead of ourselves, something coach Dave Tippett doesn't like.

"We're only just past the 20-game mark," he said after Martin Hanzal and Lee Stempniak each scored twice and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 23 shots to foil the Oilers. "I'll get excited when I feel we're good enough to do something. Give all the credit in the world to these guys for how hard they're working, but it's early."

Who's hot:
Saku Koivu of the Ducks had goals in consecutive games and assisted on Sexton's tally Friday for a three-game points streak. … Stempniak has a team-leading 7 goals for the Coyotes and Hanzal has 4 goals in his last five games. Bryzgalov has won six straight, allowing two goals or less in three of his last four starts.

Injury report:
Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne is day-to-day with a groin injury. Forward Joffrey Lupul (back), who hasn't played yet this season, could return to the lineup in early December. He remains on injured reserve along with forwards Jason Jaffray (knee), Matt Beleskey (concussion) and Kyle Chipchura (concussion).

Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski is likely to return after missing Tuesday's game with flu-like symptoms. Fellow blueliner Adrian Aucoin was also out with a lower-body injury that has him day-to-day. Forward Kyle Turris (upper body) and defenseman Kurt Sauer (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Ducks' record fell to 9-26-2 with six ties when playing a defending Stanley Cup champion. … The Coyotes are 8-1-2 (18 points) this month and if they win their next two games would break the franchise record for points in November, set in 1998 when they went 10-0-1 (21 points).

Puck drop:
Phoenix was the only NHL team to have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off this week. Did the down time sharpen the focus of Bryzgalov and company even more, or will it stall the momentum they built over the prior two weeks?

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