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Pens begin homestand against Coyotes

by Brian Compton
COYOTES (33-23-9) at PENGUINS (38-21-5)

: FS-A (HD), ROOT (HD)

Last 10: Phoenix 7-2-1; Pittsburgh 8-2-0.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They haven't faced each other since Dec. 20, 2010, when the Pens cruised to a 6-1 victory in the Steel City.

Big Story: Monday marks the beginning of a four-game homestand for the red-hot Penguins, who have won five straight as they attempt to nail down home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix finished the month of February with a record of 11-0-1, which allowed it to overtake San Jose for the Pacific Division lead. But March hasn't been so kind to the Coyotes, as they've been outscored 9-4 in back-to-back losses against Calgary and Columbus, respectively.

"We recognize we don't have two games to give away," captain Shane Doan said. "At the same time, we have to go back to what was making us successful the previous (12)."

Penguins: Nearly everyone contributed to Pittsburgh's latest victory, a 5-1 decision at Colorado on Saturday night. Eleven different players etched their names on the scoresheet as the Pens continue to find ways to win without captain Sidney Crosby.

"We've got to spread it out," forward Arron Asham said of the offense. "That's how good hockey teams win, and that's how you're going to win in the playoffs."

Who's Hot: Coyotes winger Ray Whitney, 39, leads the club with 59 points and has goals in four of his last five games. … Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has won five straight starts, posting a 1.77 goals-against average along the way. Evgeni Malkin has 18 points in his last 10 games and is tied with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the NHL scoring lead with 80 points.

Injury Report: Phoenix is likely to be without David Schlemko (foot), Kyle Chipchura (wrist), Rostislav Klesla (upper body) and Derek Morris (family illness). … Besides Crosby (neck, concussion), Pens defenseman Kris Letang is questionable after taking a hit from Dallas Stars forward Eric Nystrom last Wednesday. Tyler Kennedy is close to returning from a high ankle sprain.

Stat Pack: Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is 3-4-0 with a 2.51 GAA in eight career starts against the Penguins. … Malkin had 6 points in two games against Phoenix last season.

Puck Drop: "We came on the road expecting to win both games. We had a good battle in Dallas. We came here and we knew they're fighting for a playoff spot and they're a hungry team. We came out a little slow, but we got some big timely goals and big saves by 'Flower,' and it was a big two points for us. We've got to go home now and focus on the next game." -- Pens forward Arron Asham after Saturday's 5-1 win at Colorado

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