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Pacific rivals look to snap respective losing streaks

by Brian Hunter /
COYOTES (15-11-3) at DUCKS (8-16-5)


Last 10:
Phoenix 5-5-0; Anaheim 2-7-1

Season Series:
Third of six meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. The Coyotes have taken the first two. Keith Yandle had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 5-4 win on Oct. 23 in Anaheim, while Radim Vrbata scored twice to key a 4-2 victory on Nov. 23 in Phoenix.

Big Story: As the Coyotes battle for first place, they may have an edge behind the bench after what has been a tumultuous past six months for coaches in the Pacific. The firings of Terry Murray in Los Angeles on Monday and Randy Carlyle in Anaheim just a couple weeks ago leave Dave Tippett as the second-longest tenured coach in the division behind only Todd McLellan in San Jose. Tippett has guided Phoenix to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons and the club has been an early-season surprise after the loss of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in free agency over the summer.

Team Scope:

Three days in between games has given Phoenix time to recharge the engines and figure out how to snap out of a two-game losing streak that featured a 4-1 home loss to NHL-leading Minnesota on Saturday. As they did against the Red Wings in Detroit, the Coyotes put themselves in an early hole. Kyle Brodziak scored the first of his two goals on a power play 2:08 into the first period, and the Wild built on their lead before Lauri Korpikoski finally got the 'Yotes on the board with 3:57 remaining.

"It wasn't as if we didn't try," Tippett said. "I mean, we had a lot of guys try hard. But trying is one thing. It's what you do after the trying that counts and their opportunities counted and ours didn't."

The home team also enters on a two-game losing streak, and Anaheim is just 1-3-1 since replacing Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau following a Nov. 30 win over Montreal. The Ducks opened the scoring Saturday in Nashville on an Andrew Gordon goal and closed it on a score by Francois Beauchemin, but in between they gave up three to the Predators in a 3-2 defeat. One of the highlights for the visitors was Teemu Selanne registering his 900th point for the Ducks and the 1,369th of his career, tying him with Johnny Bucyk for 23rd on the all-time scoring list.

"We played five good minutes at the end of the second period and maybe 10 good ones at the end of the third," Boudreau said in the Orange County Register. "We can't get on a roll where we do that for 30, 40 minutes. I haven't seen that since I've been here."

Who's Hot: Coyotes captain Shane Doan has a three-game assists streak. … Selanne has 1 goal and 5 assists during a four-game points streak. His 29 points are tops on the Ducks.

Injury Report: Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, but is skating and could return later this week. … Anaheim defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky could return from a hand injury as early as Wednesday. Forward Saku Koivu missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Defenseman Matt Smaby (hand) and forward Jason Blake (wrist) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Coyotes forward Ray Whitney picked up his 600th assist last week against the Red Wings and is 49 points shy of 1,000 for his career. … Ducks forward Corey Perry leads the team with 12 goals and his 7 power-play goals are tied for third in the League.

Puck Drop: Anaheim could have two new players in the lineup Wednesday after completing a four-player deal with New Jersey earlier in the week. In exchange for defenseman Kurtis Foster and AHL goalie Timo Pielmeier, the team acquired forward Rod Pelley and defenseman Mark Fraser. Both players spent their entire NHL careers with the Devils. Pelley had 7 goals and 26 points in 211 games, while Fraser had 3 goals and 8 points in 98 games.
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