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Coyotes wrap up road trip vs. Bruins

by Mike Battaglino

COYOTES (31-24-11) at BRUINS (43-17-5)


Last 10: Phoenix 5-4-1; Boston 7-1-2

Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins play twice in a 10-day span. The Bruins won 2-1 in overtime at the Coyotes on Dec. 28, 2011.

Big story: Boston, which defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday, is 9-1-2 in its past 12 games and trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point for first place in the Eastern Conference.

"I think we're definitely focused on trying to get that spot," Bruins forward Brad Marchand told NHL Network. "But I think more it's the process and how we're going to do that and make sure we're prepared for each and every game, not trying to look too far ahead, and hopefully things will sort themselves out at the end. But we just want to play our best hockey going into the playoffs."

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix looks to end a four-game Eastern Conference road trip with a three-game win streak. The Coyotes lost to the Washington Capitals on Saturday before defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers back-to-back Monday and Tuesday.

"We're missing those first two points, [which] would have been huge," captain Shane Doan told the Coyotes website Wednesday in Boston. "But you're trying to find a way to get some positives. Winning those last two games was huge. We had to find a way to do it and we did. Now we have a big game coming up to finish the trip off, and it's going to be a huge challenge."

Phoenix has worked some newcomers into its lineup during the trip. Defenseman Brandon Gormley made his NHL debut, defenseman Chris Summers played his first three games of the season, and forward Andy Miele was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League.

"Whenever you get a chance to play as a young guy, the energy you bring to that game is incredible," Doan said. "It's kind of like your playoffs ... having youthful enthusiasm is important for our team."

Forward Brandon McMillan arrived Feb. 27 and has played six games for Phoenix after seeing action in 91 for the Anaheim Ducks during parts of three seasons. McMillan has two goals in his past three games playing on a line with Doan and Mike Ribeiro.

"I think our blue line, with [Summers] and [Gormley], they've been great, and obviously playing with [McMillan], he's [got] two goals in the last couple games," Doan said. "He's been a huge asset for us and helps out [Ribeiro] and I, and Andy getting a chance to play with [Radim Vrbata] obviously has been nice."

Doan will play his 1,300th NHL game. He will be the 54th NHL player to reach that mark, the 10th with one franchise.

Bruins: On Feb. 1, Boston was seven points behind Pittsburgh. In a six-game winning streak, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 25-10.

"I think we're starting to come into our own and it seems like everybody's buying in at the right time and just focused on doing their job," Marchand said. "The only time we really get in trouble is when we try to do too much, and we've been on a pretty good roll, so we're happy right now."

Goalie Chad Johnson is 13-3-1, the best winning percentage for a backup goalie with at least 14 games played (.765). He is likely to start after Tuukka Rask defeated the Canadiens.

Who's hot: Vrbata had three points in the 3-1 win against the Panthers; he has four goals and two assists in his past four games. Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has five assists in his past four games, and seven in seven; the Boston native will play his second hometown NHL game. Goalie Mike Smith has won four of six, with a .926 save percentage. … Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron has five points in his past two games. Forward Carl Soderberg has five points in his past four games, and nine in nine. Rask has won four in row.

Injury report: Coyotes forward Martin Erat (upper body) left the game Tuesday and won't play. Defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) is back in Phoenix. Forward Martin Hanzal (lower body) has not played on the trip; defenseman Derek Morris (upper body) has missed the past two games. … Bruins forward Daniel Paille (concussion) skated Wednesday and could return Saturday. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (leg) is out.

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