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Coyotes try to move closer to playoffs

by John Kreiser
AVALANCHE (28-40-8) at COYOTES (42-25-11)

TV: ALT (HD); FS-A+ (HD)

Last 10: 
Colorado 2-8-0; Phoenix 8-2-0

Season series: It's the last of four meetings between the teams this season, and the Coyotes are going for a sweep. They won 2-0 and 5-2 in Denver in January before blanking the Avs 3-0 at Arena on Feb. 7.

Big story: The Coyotes may be fourth in the West, but they've still got some work to do to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight year. To get back to the postseason, winning games like Friday's is a must -- the Avs are 14th in the West and coming off another loss, 3-2 at home to Nashville on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Colorado: The Avs continue to play hard, but they lost for the 26th time in their last 30 games when a late rally came up short against Nashville. Paul Stastny and David Jones scored in the third period, but it wasn't enough.

"We've lost two in a row by one goal," center Matt Duchene said. "We're just making mistakes at the wrong time right now and it's eating us alive."

Coyotes: The Coyotes don't win pretty, but they do win. Dallas outplayed them for a lot of the night on Tuesday, but the game was 1-1 through 65 minutes before shootout goals by Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney gave Phoenix the extra point.

With an offense that struggles to score (8 goals in five games) the Coyotes are in no position to take even a struggling team like the Avs lightly.

"It's a very important game. There should be no feeling that we can let this one go by," coach Dave Tippett said. "There's has to be urgent effort all the time."

Who's hot: The Coyotes have been winning thanks to the brilliance of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who has a 1.54 goals-against average while winning seven of his last nine starts.

Injury report: 
Colorado played Thursday without defensemen Adam Foote (leg) and Ryan Wilson (knee). Coach Joe Sacco said Foote won't make the trip to the desert. … Phoenix is still without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (facial fractures) and centers Martin Hanzal (lower body) and Lauri Korpikoski (upper body), The Coyotes hope they'll be able to return before the playoffs.

Stat pack: Phoenix has won the last five games in the series, outscoring Colorado 19-5. The Coyotes have also won five in a row at home with a 17-5 edge in goals. … The Avs have been outscored 123-59 while winning just four of their last 30 games.

Puck drop: A win will give Bryzgalov the franchise record for victories (he shares the mark of 129 with Bob Essensa, who played for the team during its time in Winnipeg), and he'll get the chance to get the milestone on his Bobblehead Night.

"It doesn't mean anything to me," he said of the victory mark after his 44-save effort against Dallas. "I'm glad we got two points. It's more important for the team. I'm not chasing any records."

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