COYOTES (14-11-1) at DUCKS (10-11-3)
Last 10 --
Phoenix 4-5-1; Anaheim 5-4-1
Season series --
Third meeting in the first two months between Pacific Division rivals. Each team has won a one-goal game on home ice. The Coyotes prevailed 3-2 in a shootout on Halloween night, while the Ducks paid them back one week later with a 4-3 victory. Anaheim's Corey Perry
has goals in both games.
Big story --
Seemingly unable to build any sort of momentum over the first seven weeks, the Ducks have suddenly won three in a row and crept back to within a game of .500 behind the resurrection of a former Conn Smythe- and Stanley Cup-winning goaltender. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, winless and mired in controversy about his future in Anaheim just a couple weeks back, has allowed just four goals in starting all three games of the win streak. He punctuated that stretch with a 28-save shutout Friday in a 3-0 victory that ended Chicago's eight-game win streak.
"Everybody was playing well and Jiggy played amazing," defenseman Nick Boynton said. "When your goalie plays like that, it makes the game real easy. We hadn't played a full game yet and we are a quarter of the way into the season. Today, it was nice to get a full game in. To beat a team like that, it's a good feeling and a good confidence boost."
It's no secret goal scoring is a problem when your leader almost a third of the way through the season has just seven. Phoenix ranks fifth from the bottom at 2.42 goals per game, but the Coyotes snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday by erupting for a 5-2 home win over Dallas. Lauri Korpikoski
, who didn’t have a point in 16 previous games, netted his first two goals in the second period.
"It's unbelievable. You lose so much confidence when you're not scoring," Korpikoski said. "It's a different game when you get the first one and everything slows down for you and you start to make plays with confidence again. It's a good feeling."
Two games remain out of a stretch of seven straight at the Honda Center, and after a shaky start that involved blowing a three-goal lead to Tampa Bay before getting a Scott Niedermayer goal in overtime and then getting edged by San Jose, Anaheim has found the win streak it desperately needed to start making up ground in the Western Conference.
"It's amazing the difference," coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "Everything that we were trying to do seemed to go against us and now the things that are staples of our game are helping us have some success."
Who's hot --
Matthew Lombardi registered three assists against Dallas and is second on Phoenix in scoring with 15 points. Scottie Upshall is also coming off a three-assist game.
Perry appears to be permanently hot for Anaheim, tying Teemu Selanne's franchise record with a 17-game points streak. The veteran Selanne is hardly going quietly into that good night, however, with three goals in his last two games to give him a team-leading 14 on the season. And of course Giguere is getting the job done in net.
Injury report --
Three Coyotes are questionable for Sunday's game: forwards Vernon Fiddler (undisclosed) and Peter Mueller (upper body) and defenseman Ed Jovanovski (lower body). Defenseman Kurt Sauer
(head) remains on injured reserve.
Forward Ryan Carter remains out for the Ducks with a broken right foot while forward Joffrey Lupul has back spasms and is questionable.
Stat pack --
Getting the first goal generally leads to success for Phoenix, which is 11-2-1 this season when it opens the scoring.
Puck drop --
Anaheim has escaped the West basement – the next step is getting out of last in the Pacific. The Ducks currently trail the fourth-place Coyotes by six points.