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Coyotes' Yandle looking to build on strong effort

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes have a power-play goal in each of the past six games and having Keith Yandle on the point is a key component.

Not just for his shot or his passes, but for his goaltending as well.

Time and again this season Yandle had made acrobatic "saves" to thwart an enemy clearing attempt, sometimes going into a vertical dive like a baseball shortstop knocking down a hard hit ground ball.

Yandle had another key keep-in Thursday leading to an Antoine Vermette power-play goal in the first period. It turned out to be the difference in a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Coyotes will go for two straight wins Saturday when they face the New Jersey Devils for the first time in more than two years. The Devils are 1-0-2 on a four-game trip that ends in Arizona.

For a team that has scored one goal in each of its past three games and is averaging 1.69 goals per game during the past 16 games, every little edge helps. And Yandle, who has 24 assists and 30 points for the season, is becoming known for his ability to keep a possession going.

"You see so often that when a team has a chance to clear the puck and doesn't, so many times it comes back to bite you," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "I can think of a handful of times this year when Keith made a great save on the blue line somehow and it turned into a goal or a great opportunity for us."

The Coyotes are two games away from tying the Phoenix record of eight consecutive games with a power-play goal. The franchise record is 14, set when the club was located in Winnipeg.

Yandle's assist Thursday was a ray of sunshine for Yandle, who was a minus-10 during a four-game stretch from Jan. 9-14, including three straight minus-3 games. Since learning he was not selected for the United States team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, positives have been hard to come by.

New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer juggled his lines at the morning skate, putting Reid Boucher on the top line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. He was non-committal on whether he would dress seven defensemen as he did against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who had a stomach ailment and was a late scratch for the Devils prior to their 2-1 shootout loss against the Avalanche, is expected to rejoin the lineup.

Martin Brodeur will be in goal for the Devils and Mike Smith, who is coming off his first shutout of the season with 29 saves against the Canucks, will start for Phoenix.

Here is are the projected lineups for the Devils and Coyotes:


Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier

Ryan Carter - Andrei Loktionov - Stephen Gionta

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Cam Janssen, Jacob Josefson, Eric Gelinas

Injured: Damien Brunner (lower body), Peter Harrold (foot)


Shane Doan - Mike Ribeiro - David Moss

Tim Kennedy - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker

Rob Klinkhammer - Jeff Halpern - Kyle Chipchura

Keith Yandle - Michael Stone

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Derek Morris

David Schlemko - Zbynek Michalek

Mike Smith

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Paul Bissonnette, Jordan Szwarz

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