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First place on the line as Stars host Coyotes

by Brian Compton
COYOTES (27-19-9) at STARS (30-18-5)

TV: Fox Sports-Arizona, Fox Sports-Southwest.

Last 10: Phoenix 4-6-0; Dallas 5-5-0.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. Phoenix has won the last two showdowns, outscoring Dallas by a 6-2 margin along the way.

Big Story: Ilya Bryzgalov is on a roll. The Coyotes' goaltender has recorded back-to-back shutouts after the club was mired in a 2-6-0 slump during which Phoenix allowed at least four goals in each loss.

The Coyotes have a chance to post three consecutive shutouts for the first time since Brian Boucher's modern-day NHL record of five straight from Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004. Bryzgalov recorded three in a row with Anaheim in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Right now, the way we are playing, a team has to earn it, make plays to score a goal, not give them a goal," said Bryzgalov, two shutouts shy of matching Nikolai Khabibulin's franchise record of 21. "When you take care of your net like we took care of ours the last two games, you increase your chances to win games."

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Bryzgalov's recent efforts have helped Phoenix move within two points of Dallas for the Pacific Division lead. Two nights after blanking the Minnesota Wild, Bryzgalov stopped all 30 shots he faced Monday night in a 3-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Arena.

"Bryz has been solid and when he's had to make big saves, he has, but we've been more committed in front of him, playing stronger defense," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.

Stars: Dallas returns home following back-to-back losses on the road, including Saturday's 3-1 loss to Philadelphia. While the Stars possess the third-most points in the Western Conference, they are just five ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles.

"You're in trouble if you start getting satisfied with losses," coach Marc Crawford told the Stars' web site. "Your job is to try and find a way."

Who's Hot: Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt has points in three of his last five games. He scored his sixth game-winning goal of the season Saturday. … Stars captain Brenden Morrow has goals in five of his last six games.
Injury Report: Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko is out with an upper-body injury, while it appears Ed Jovanovski (upper body) and forward Vernon Fiddler (shoulder) are likely to return. … Dallas is expected to be without Toby Petersen (leg), Tom Wandell (shoulder), Jamie Benn (shoulder), Ray Sawada (shoulder), Adam Burish (broken orbital bone) and Krys Barch (upper body).

Stat Pack: The Coyotes' next win will be their 500th since the franchise moved from Winnipeg in 1996. … Tippett ranks second all-time for the Stars with 271 career victories. He coached Dallas from 2002-08. … Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is 1-4-0 with a 3.73 goals-against average in his last five starts, while backup Andrew Raycroft has a 7.93 GAA in his last three appearances.

Puck Drop: "We put in four good periods in the last two games. That doesn't add up to too many wins." -- Stars captain Brenden Morrow  
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